Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown said it was a technical error that led to a passage from an Elizabeth Dole speech being posted on his official website after a Democratic group accused the Republican senator of plagiarism.
In a message to students, autobiographical words attributed to Brown were identical to remarks the former North Carolina senator delivered when she kicked off her Senate campaign in 2002 and later appeared on her official website.
The Boston Globe reported:
Brown’s staff acknowledged yesterday the words originally were Dole’s and said their presence in Brown’s message was the result of a technical error.
“I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,” said the message from Brown, which was removed later yesterday. “From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.”
Aside from the omission of an opening line -- “I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter” -- in Dole’s speech, the Bay State Republican’s language is the same throughout.
The language has since been removed from the site, replaced by a shorter, three-sentence passage.
Brown spokesman John Donnelly told the Globe the language was posted in error while his staff was creating the senator’s website.
“Senator Dole’s website served as one of the models for Senator Brown’s website when he first took office. During construction of the site, the content on this particular page was inadvertently transferred without being rewritten,” Donnelly said. “It was a staff level oversight which we regret and is being corrected.”
The passage was discovered by the American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal super PAC that according to the Globe has been combing Republican records ahead of the 2012 elections.
“This kind of plagiarism makes me wonder how many things about Scott Brown are really genuine,” said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century.
According to Politico, a welcome message for interns on Brown's site also looked similar to Dole's old Senate page. Her former chief of staff Brian Nick said Dole’s office was “certainly aware that Sen. Brown’s office used our site as a template during the transition period.”
“Obviously we were made aware by his staff that there was an error by an intern or staff member who was working on it at the time … obviously it’s much ado about nothing,” Nick said, calling it “very common” for offices of lawmakers to “share templates” for “a lot of generic language.”
This is the second controversy for Brown in two weeks. Last Tuesday, his 2012 Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren made a crack about Brown's infamous Cosmopolitan photo spread when he was in law school, noting she "kept her clothes on" to pay for school. Asked about it two days later, Brown responded, "Thank God," prompting outrage from women's groups and the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Brown later said he was "joking" and it was a response to Warren's "wisecrack."