Alex Constantine - November 5, 2013
Also see: "Rand Paul’s plagiarism allegations, and why they matter," Washington Post, November 4, 2013: " ... Paul hasn’t denied that the language was borrowed. Instead, he has argued that he is the victim of 'haters' out to destroy his political career. ... "
The accusations of plagiarism continue to pile up for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, with new reports that an op-ed he wrote in September bears passages that closely resemble an opinion piece that had been published a week earlier. The piece Paul wrote for The Washington Times on mandatory minimums seems to contain three paragraphs that were essentially copied from an op-ed by a senior editor of The Week, as first reported by Buzzfeed.
The instance joins a growing number of Paul’s works, including speeches, his book and congressional testimony that outlets including POLITICO, MSNBC and Buzzfeed have found to contain sections that appeared copied.
Paul wrote in one section of his September piece:
“By design, mandatory-sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances. Since mandatory sentencing began in the 1970s in response to a growing drug-and-crime epidemic, America’s prison population has quadrupled, to 2.4 million. America now jails a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country, including China and Iran, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year. Drug offenders in the United States spend more time under the criminal justice system’s formal control than drug offenders anywhere else in the world.
“Most public officials — liberals, conservatives and libertarians — have decided that mandatory-minimum sentencing is unnecessary. At least 20 states, both red and blue, have reformed their mandatory-sentencing laws in some way, and Congress is considering a bipartisan bill that would do the same for federal crimes.”
That compares to editor Dan Stewart’s op-ed in The Week:
“By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances. Mandatory sentencing began in the 1970s as a response to a growing drug-and-crime epidemic, and over the decades has put hundreds of thousands of people behind bars for drug possession and sale, and other non-violent crimes. Since mandatory sentencing began, America’s prison population has quadrupled, to 2.4 million. America now jails a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country, including China and Iran, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year.
“Most public officials — including liberals, conservatives, and libertarians — have decided that it’s not. At least 20 states, both red and blue, have reformed their mandatory sentencing laws in some way, and Congress is considering a bipartisan bill that would do the same for federal crimes.”
And in another section, Paul wrote:
“John Horner was a 46-year-old father of three when he sold some of his prescription painkillers to a friend. His friend turned out to be a police informant, and he was charged with dealing drugs. Horner pleaded guilty and was later sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison.
“John will be 72 years old by the time he is released, and his three young children will have grown up without him. The informant, who had a long history of drug offenses, was more fortunate — he received a reduced sentence of just 18 months, and is now free.”
Which resembles this paragraph from The Week:
“When a friend asked John Horner if he could buy some painkillers, the 46-year-old father of three didn’t see a problem. The Osceola County, Fla., resident had been taking prescribed painkillers for years after losing his eye in an accident, and agreed to sell his friend, “Matt,” four unused bottles. After the pills exchanged hands, Horner discovered that “Matt” was in fact a police informant, and he was charged with dealing drugs. At the advice of his public defender, Horner pleaded guilty, and was later sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 25 years in jail. He will be 72 by the time he is released, and his three young children will have grown up without him. “Matt,” who turned out to have a long history of drug offenses, was more fortunate — he received a reduced sentence of just 18 months after informing on Horner, and is now free.”
Paul has rejected the accusations as “footnote police” and “hacks and haters” trying to attack him, saying spoken word does not allow footnotes the way an academic paper would. Sunday, on ABC’s “This Week,” Paul said he wished dueling were still legal so he could issue some challenges.
He has pledged to be more cautious with his words, and some of the speeches that have been questioned have had footnotes added to the transcript hosted on his Senate website.
Monday night, Sean Hannity on his Fox News show asked Paul about his book, “Government Bullies,” which allegedly contains three pages of material from copied from think tank reports.
“I can’t always quote everything perfect. I’m not perfect. I do make mistakes. In the book in fact we made a mistake, it should have been blocked off or indented to show that it was a quotation. It was footnoted at the end,” Paul said. “We didn’t try to pass off anything as our own. And they’re coming up with these absurdities.”
Paul again brushed off the criticisms as having ulterior motives and said speeches are different than other works.
“Can a speaker not tell stories without always remembering the exact citation? I think it’s a standard that no one else is being held to and I think it’s politically motivated,” Paul said. “We’ve tried at every possible point to attribute things and nothing was ever intentionally used. We give credit to Heritage I think 15 times in the book, to Cato 12 times. And do we always do it perfectly? Maybe not, but we try.”
Paul’s office could not immediately be reached for comment early Tuesday on the op-ed.
The editor in chief of The Week told Buzzfeed that it appreciated Paul’s endorsement.
Lucy McCalmont contributed to this story.