GOP gubernatorial candidate Les Otten in plagiarism flap

Posted May 03, 2010, at 5:21 a.m.

A blog account of apparent plagiarism by Republican gubernatorial candidate Les Otten drew an apology from the candidate this weekend, but that didn’t satisfy the source of Otten’s material.

Last Friday, the website, Pine Tree Politics posted this account of Otten’s response to a question about the federal education grant program Race to the Top. The editor of Pine Tree Politics, Matthew Gagnon, compared Otten’s answers with testimony given during the last legislative session by Stephen Bowen of the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

One example offered by Gagnon was this from Otten: “Under the Race to the Top program, $4.3 billion is being made available to states to help them fund promising education reforms.

“The catch is that this is a competitive grant program. States across the nation have responded by passing comprehensive reform legislation that moves their states forward in a dramatic fashion.”

Bowen’s printed testimony was as follows: “Under the Race to the Top program, $4.3 billion is being made available to states to help them fund promising education reforms. The catch is that this is a competitive grant program, and states across the nation have responded by passing comprehensive reform legislation that moves their states forward in a dramatic fashion.”

Subsequently, the Otten campaign posted a response on the website Augusta Insider, where the education question was asked, “We apologize for the inadvertent oversight as the final draft of our response was being prepared. This is an error of omission not an error of commission.”

The Portland Press Herald quoted Bowen as saying the response from the Otten campaign was insufficient. “The tone of their response is, I guess, what bugged me,” Bowen told the Press Herald. “It suggested it was inadvertent and accidental, and I don’t believe it was.”

The Otten campaign faced an earlier plagiarism question when its campaign logo, a decorative O, was found to have looked a lot like the 2008 campaign logo of Barack Obama. The image no longer appears on the Otten campaign website.

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