Karen E. CrummyThe Denver Post

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July 13, 2010
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McInnis accused of plagiarizing parts of essay on water

Although GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis presented his "Musings on Water" for publication as original works, portions are identical and nearly identical to an essay on water written 20 years earlier by now-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs.A Clemson University expert who reviewed McInnis' work next to Hobbs' essay called it a clear case of plagiarism of both words and ideas.McInnis' water articles were a required part of his two-year fellowship at the Hasan Family Foundation in 2005 and 2006. The former congressman, who left office in 2004, was paid $300,000 to do speaking engagements and "research and write a monthly article on water issues that can be distributed to media and organizations as well as be available on the Internet."Totaling 150 pages over 23 installments, the articles discussing state water policy are devoid of footnotes, endnotes or other forms of attribution.In at least four of those articles, McInnis' work mirrors Hobbs' 1984 essay published by the Colorado Water Congress, "Green Mountain Reservoir: Lock or Key?"In one of his installments of the musings, titled "Pumpbacks and Roundtables," McInnis uses four full pages that are nearly reprinted verbatim from Hobbs' earlier work.The justice reviewed examples of his work and McInnis' essays provided by The Denver Post and released a statement through court spokesman Rob McCallum."There are definite similarities," Hobbs said. "I would expect there would be some attribution."McInnis, a lawyer and partner at Hogan Lovells, refused to comment.His spokesman, Sean Duffy, said McInnis acknowledged the similarities but blamed a researcher.Rolly Fischer, a Glenwood Springs engineer who worked at the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Duffy said, was the one who handled the portions that used Hobbs' work without attribution."It should've been attributed properly and it was not," Duffy said. "(McInnis) relied on the research and expertise" of Fischer.Fischer did not return calls late Monday. His name appears nowhere on the work McInnis submitted as his own for publication by the Hasan Family Foundation. Duffy said he did not know how much Fischer was paid as McInnis' assistant but was looking into it.Copies of his work provided to The Post by the McInnis campaign were stamped "DRAFT" by a campaign lawyer, but the campaign acknowledged that the newspaper's copies were the final versions McInnis submitted to the Hasan Family Foundation as part of his fellowship."Deeply disappointed"In a phone interview Monday night, Dr. Malik Hasan said he hired McInnis as a fellow because of his work on the House Natural Resources Committee and his expertise on water issues.He said he expected it would be a full- or substantial-time job because the project included educating the public on Colorado water uses and how the state could be more diligent in protecting its rivers.But soon after he started his fellowship, McInnis took a job at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells), leaving little time for the project, Hasan said.Speaking only for himself and not for the foundation board, of which he is a member, Hasan said he was "deeply disappointed by the quantity and quality of McInnis' work."I am doubly disappointed since learning of the plagiarism," he said. "I'm going to suggest (McInnis) eturn a substantial amount of the money to the foundation."The chairwoman of the foundation released a statement late Monday night:"In light of the accusations against Scott McInnis regarding plagiarism of articles to the Hasan Family Foundation, I am shocked, angry and disappointed," the statement from Seeme Hasan said. "Any work related to the fellowship that Mr. McInnis submitted was always represented as final. At no time, whatsoever, did Mr. McInnis communicate that any of the work were 'rough drafts.' Any representation that they were submitted to the Foundation as 'rough drafts' is absolutely incorrect."In addition, there were never discussions nor any knowledge by the Foundation that Mr. McInnis was working with a 'research advisor.' ... The work that the Foundation hired Mr. McInnis to do was to be done solely by Mr. McInnis, and not in concert with anyone else."The Hasan Family Foundation takes the issue of plagiarism extremely seriously. At no time was it brought to our attention that Mr. McInnis used information not cited or unethically used work that was not his own. All work was represented to be original and final. We will conduct an independent, internal investigation and if the allegations are proven to be true, we will demand Mr. McInnis return all monies paid to him by the Foundation."McInnis' articles were not posted to the foundation's website until he began his run for governor, and media inquired about what he did to earn $300,000.Duffy said that when he submitted each installment of his musings, McInnis did not intend the articles to be published as submitted by him. He expected to edit them when the foundation decided to publish.In 2005, McInnis wrote a memo to Seeme Hasan, the chairwoman of the foundation, updating her on his fellowship program. Noting his series of articles, McInnis said: "All the articles are original and not reprinted from any other source."At the end of his fellowship, he wrote Seeme Hasan a memo dated Feb. 10, 2007, saying the foundation had in "its custody the final form of the series.""I am very pleased with the articles and am confident that they will service the public interest for some time as well-researched, easy-read and on-point articles."Hobbs' essay on the Green Mountain reservoir addressed the intricacies of a proposed water exchange project that involved the reservoir, the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and Denver. McInnis makes reference to the years of history surrounding the reservoir in a number of articles.At times, he uses identical, complex phrases also employed by Hobbs, such as "constant vigilance" and "key to a complex interlock." And entire sentences - even paragraphs - are identical but for a synonym or two and tense change.Same words, ideasTeresa Fishman, director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University, said plagiarism comes in two forms: ideas and words."In this case, it looks like plagiarism of both - words and ideas lifted from an original source," said Fishman, who compared Hobbs' work with that of McInnis at the request of The Post. She said that if McInnis were her student, she would give him an "F" and "report him to the academic dishonesty council."For instance, at the end of Hobbs' 30-page essay, he writes, "It is said that Wayne Aspinall, shortly before his death, cautioned western Colorado water leaders against giving up Green Mountain Reservoir, the key to the Colorado River which the Western Slope Protective Association fashioned forty-six years ago."McInnis, who also used the Aspinall quote near the end of an article, wrote: "The late Wayne Aspinall, who had been Colorado's 4th District Congressman ... admonished western Colorado water leaders not to ever give up Green Mountain Reservoir, the key to the Colorado River, which the Western Slope Protective Association had forged so carefully in the late 1930s."In recent years, allegations of plagiarism have become regular features in campaigns. Most notably, now-Vice President Joe Biden was forced to drop out of the race for president in 1987 after it was revealed he had appropriated an anecdote from a British politician in a speech and had been accused of plagiarism in law school.Karen Crummy: 303-954-1594 or kcrummy@denverpost.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jul 13, 2010 04:41PM Published Jul 13, 2010 04:37PM Copyright 2010 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.