Rainville acknowledges plagiarism by staff member

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(Host) Martha Rainville, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House, has acknowledged that a member of her campaign staff plagiarized statements from other politicians.

Rainville says the aide responsible for the incident has resigned.

She said the aide used passages from several other politicians, including Senator Hillary Clinton and included them in campaign statements.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The campaign plagiarism first came to light in a blog run by Julie Waters.

Waters teaches part-time at Community College of Vermont. She says one of her responsibilities is to make sure her students don’t lift passages from other people’s research.

So Waters says she’s become pretty good at ferreting our plagiarism. And when she read on a political blog that Martha Rainville had apparently borrowed talking points from a White House speech, she used an Internet search engine to dig deeper.

(Waters) “And as I looked through her material, I found that her policy on energy had been taken directly from a Hillary Clinton speech from months before. And a press release she gave about access to the federal budget and earmarks, I found that was taken from a transcript on the PBS show Now.’ And I just did Google searches on the words, for that particular order, and they came up really easy. It wasn’t even hidden particularly well.”

(Dillon) Over the weekend, Waters emailed her findings to a wide group of people. And by Monday, the Rainville campaign had responded.

Rainville says the aide responsible has resigned, and that her web site has been taken down while staff members prepare new policy papers.

(Rainville) “We did an initial investigation based on the information we were given this morning and realized that this, the use of words, goes far beyond just building on others ideas, and really we felt were just lifted from others’ web sites and from others’ statements. And it’s not acceptable.”

(Dillon) Rainville says the former staff member identified three instances in which sentences were taken from other politicians’ writings. These include the energy policy statement borrowed from Hillary Clinton, a passage on access to the federal budget that came from a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, and language on health care that came from a Colorado Republican.

Rainville says she develops her position statements by studying issues and meeting with advisors. But she says the ideas and policies are her own.

(Rainville) “These policies do reflect my position precisely. So it’s just a matter that they’re worded them in a way that it’s not plagiarism or if we use specific wording, that it’s attributed to the source.”

(Dillon) Vermont Democrats have criticized the plagiarism incident. Vermont Republicans have responded that Democrats also borrow language from others when they formulate their own statements and press releases.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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