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Mike Bloomberg campaign accused of plagiarizing policy positions

They blamed software limitations

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg's campaign has plagiarized multiple portions of policy plans on a multiple subjects from a variety of sources, according to a new report.

The Intercept reported Thursday that sections from at least eight of the campaign's policy plans or related fact sheets were copied "from media outlets including CNN, Time, and CBS, a research center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the American Medical Association, Everytown for Gun Safety, Building America's Future Educational Fund, and other organizations." The outlet also noted that the plagiarized sections differed in length from entire paragraphs to sentences and fragments.

The story shows side-by-side comparisons of the campaign literature at issue with its original sources. "One of the more egregious examples," report author Akela Lacy tweeted, was a couple of whole paragraphs that appear to be taken from a CNN op-ed about tax policy.

When the Intercept reached out to the Bloomberg campaign, the story notes, they took down one of the eight plans and changed others. In a statement to the outlet, the campaign didn't deny plagiarism but blamed the problem on email software limitations.

"Much of what you flagged were fact sheets that went out via MailChimp," the statement reads, "which doesn't support footnote formatting." The campaign added that. "We have since added citations and links to these documents."

At New York Magazine, Sarah Jones pointed out how the report's findings are made even worse by the fact that Bloomberg runs a news company.

"Michael Bloomberg pays the salaries of many journalists, as the founder, president, and CEO of his eponymous media empire company," Jones wrote. "When he decided to run for president, he hired some of those journalists to work for his campaign. Tragically, he does not appear to have internalized one of the central precepts of the profession he patronizes: You can't steal other people's work."

Bloomberg isn't the first candidate in the 2020 Democratic field to deal with plagiarism accusations. In June, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign changed his climate change plan after facing claims that portions of it were borrowed without citation; this happened over three decades after plagiarized passages of speech torpedoed his presidential bid in 1987.

A Politico story published around the same time as the more recent Biden news noted that "the lifting of direct text from academic papers, think tanks or policy institutes — and the cribbing of facts without attribution — is fairly widespread on 2020 campaign websites," and pointed to Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) among the examples.

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