WASHINGTON — Seeking to stop accusations of plagiarism, Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite and potential 2016 White House contender, said on Tuesday that he and his staff have begun to more thoroughly check and footnote what they write.
A senior adviser, Doug Stafford, added that Paul had implemented “a new approval process” to “ensure proper citation and accountability in all collaborative works,” such as speeches and op-eds.
Paul, who has faced a series of plagiarism accusations in recent weeks, told the New York Times in an interview in his office, “What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers.”
Afterward, appearing on CNN, Paul said that he, not his staff, is responsible for any mistakes in what they write.
“Ultimately, I’m the boss, and things go out under my name, so it is my fault,” the Kentucky senator said. “But I would say that people need to understand that I never have intentionally ever presented anyone’s ideas as my own.”
One accusation of plagiarism stemmed from an op-ed on mandatory prison sentences that he wrote for the Washington Times. It seemed to include language from an earlier essay in the magazine The Week by Dan Stewart.
The Stewart article, posted on Sept. 14, had the sentence: “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.”
Six days later, Paul wrote: “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.”
Paul has also been accused of copying material from a Wikipedia entry in a recent speech at Liberty University while campaigning for Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Virginia.
“In the movie Gattaca, in the not-too-distant future, eugenics is common, and DNA plays a primary role in determining your social class,” Paul said.
The Wikipedia entry: “In the not-too-distant future, eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class.”
Paul, a favorite of the fiscally conservative Tea Party, has quickly emerged as an influential player since entering the Senate in 2011. But the charges of plagiarism have put the often aggressive senator on the defensive.
Some facts no ‘vetted properly’
Stafford, Paul’s adviser, said in a statement: “In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions.”
“Senator Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes — some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly,” he added.
“Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used. Going forward, footnotes will be available on request,” Stafford said. “From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete.”
The New York Times described Paul during the interview as “drawn and clearly shaken by the plagiarism charges” and said he offered a “mix of contrition and defiance.”
It said Paul said he did not know if the controversy would hurt his White House chances, but that he would be happy to return home to Kentucky and resume his practice as a doctor.
On CNN, Paul said, “I’m giving a lot of sources for every speech and because we don’t have everything properly footnoted, I’m being attacked.”
The senator said detractors are reading his books “cover to cover and looking for where we didn’t have a footnote.”
“Did we make mistakes? Yeah. I’m the first to admit I’m imperfect. But I do get offended when people try to cast aspersions on my character because I’m honest.
“I’ve never tried to mislead people. I’ve made mistakes, but that’s different than trying to attack someone’s character,” Paul said.