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Washington Times ends Sen. Rand Paul column amid plagiarism allegations
Sen. Rand Paul acknowledged Tuesday that he had failed to properly source material in published writings, including a column in The Washington Times, after a string of embarrassing plagiarism accusations surfaced in recent days.
Mr. Paul took personal responsibility for the oversights, which he and aides said were caused by staff providing him background materials that were not properly footnoted. But the Kentucky Republican, a possible 2016 White House candidate, also said he was being held by the news media to a higher standard than other politicians.
“The standard I’m being held to is a little different than everybody else,” Mr. Paul said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “They’re now going back and reading every book from cover to cover and looking for places where we footnoted correctly and don’t have quotation marks in the right places or we didn’t indent correctly.”
The Washington Times said Tuesday that it had independently reviewed Mr. Paul’s columns and op-eds and published a correction to his Sept. 20 column in which the senator had failed to attribute a passage that first appeared in The Week.
The newspaper and the senator mutually agreed to end his weekly column, which has appeared each Friday since the summer.
“We expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material, and we appreciate that the senator and his staff have taken responsibility for an oversight in one column,” Times Editor John Solomon said.
“We also appreciate the original insights he has shared with our readers over the last few months and look forward to future contributions from Sen. Paul and any other members of Congress who take the time to help educate our readers,” Mr. Solomon said.
The site also first reported that Mr. Paul copied sections of an opinion piece on mandatory sentencing, “The devastating effect of a drug-war weapon,” in The Washington Times from an article in The Week.
Mr. Paul has been a prolific op-ed writer in recent years, penning hundreds of pieces in The Times and other media outlets. But the body of his work is getting fresh attention from journalists as they uncover multiple cases of lifting other people’s work without giving them credit.
In a statement to The Times and multiple other media outlets Tuesday, Doug Stafford, an adviser to Mr. Paul, said the senator’s ideas were all his own. But he said Mr. Paul had relied on staff to provide “supporting facts and anecdotes — some of which were clearly not sourced or vetted.”
“Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used,” he said. “Going forward, footnotes will be available on request.”
In the case of The Times piece, Mr. Paul wrote, “By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances.”
That same sentence appeared in The Week in a piece by Dan Steward, BuzzFeed found.
While Mr. Stafford initially told BuzzFeed the questions about Mr. Paul amounted to a witch hunt, additional examples continued to surface. And Tuesday’s announcement appeared to signal a shift in Mr. Paul’s strategy to put the episode behind him.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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