Wisc. Dem Guv Candidate Allegedly Plagiarized Parts Of Jobs Plan

Chunks of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s jobs plan appear to have been plagiarized from the plans of a trio of Democratic candidates who ran in past cycles.

Buzzfeed reported on late Thursday that Burke’s “Invest for Success” economic plan is a near perfect copy of parts of the economic plans by 2009 Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Ward Cammack (D), the 2008 plan for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), and 2012 Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg, who ran against now-Gov. Mike Pence (R).

Burke campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Eric Schnurer, who the campaign said had written the plan, had been fired after the plagiarism accusations came to light.

“We terminated [Schnurer] immediately after this was brought to our attention by Buzzfeed,” Zepecki told the Wisconsin newspaper over email. “No member of the Burke for Wisconsin campaign staff or the candidate had ever seen the jobs plans of the candidates named in the story.”

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Zepecki said also said that the lifted paragraphs were not plagiarism because Schnurer himself wrote them for the other candidates.

Zepecki, in a statement emailed to TPM on Friday, said the core ideas of Burke’s plan were hers:

The core strategies Mary Burke outlines and the vision for Wisconsin’s economy that she lays out is entirely her own, and stand unquestioned by anyone. They are informed by Burke’s time at Harvard Business School, through starting her own small business, serving as a top executive at Trek and leading the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

Among the experts Burke spoke with was an individual who also works with other campaigns, including the Markel, Cammareck [sic] and Gregg campaigns for Governor, which explains why in a few, isolated instances similar language from those plans is used to describe ideas that are widely accepted as best practices or are ideas which hold promise for Wisconsin.

Below is an example of the passages in question. Here is a paragraph on entrepreneurs from the Gregg campaign’s plan:

Successful entrepreneurship requires a good idea and strong work ethic. But it also requires money to finance its development, and technical and management skills to prosper. In today’s economic climate, many small business owners – especially first-time entrepreneurs — find it almost impossible to borrow the money they need to start or grow their business.”

And here is the paragraph in Burke’s plan:

Successful entrepreneurship requires a good idea and a strong work ethic. But it also requires capital to finance its development, and technical and management skills to prosper. In today’s economic climate, many small business owners especially first-time entrepreneurs – find it almost impossible to borrow the money they need to start or grow their business in Wisconsin.

Read all the paragraphs highlighted by Buzzfeed here.

Burke, a former executive of Trek Bicycles, is running in a tight race against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). The TPM Polltracker average finds Walker with a 2.2 point lead over Burke.

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