McInnis firm as plagiarism reports grow

Scott McInnis

Former congressman Scott McInnis has no intention of withdrawing from the race for Colorado governor, his campaign said Wednesday.

But while Democrats, Front Range newspapers and conservative radio talk show hosts were calling for him to withdraw a day after McInnis admitted to plagiarism, no one in the Republican Party was doing so publicly, including his rival for the party’s nomination.

Although Evergreen businessman Dan Maes said he won’t call for the former 3rd Congressional District representative to step aside, he did say McInnis’ campaign will be greatly hurt by the plagiarism admission.

“I have not asked Scott to withdraw. I will not ask Scott to withdraw. This is a personal decision for him and his family and maybe some party insiders,” Maes said. “I’m not going to kick him on his way down. He’s served our state admirably.”

McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy said McInnis is very much staying in the race, even after another report surfaced Wednesday of possible plagiarism by McInnis in a November 1994 guest column in the Rocky Mountain News and January 1995 speech on the floor of the U.S. House. Both dealt with the Clinton administration’s handling of   North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, according to the Denver Post.

One of the authors of the content McInnis used, however, said he contributed work to McInnis, and it was not plagiarism.

“Scott is on the campaign trail, talking about jobs, economy and how to change Colorado,” Duffy said. “He’s taken responsibility for the mistake that was made. Scott is in the race to win.”

Colorado political pollster Floyd Ciruli said McInnis’ chances of winning the Aug. 10 primary and the Nov. 2 general election, however, have been diminished greatly.

Ciruli said McInnis still could defeat Maes, but going up against a well-financed Democrat like Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper will be problematic.

Replacement candidate?

“Can he win the general election? That, I think, is going to be very difficult,” Ciruli said. “This is a fabulous year (for Republicans), and now they’re looking at a guy who could be going into that race very significantly damaged. He’s already running behind Hickenlooper in fundraising, and that’s before this whole thing started.”

Ciruli said a third option discussed by some people could bring in an entirely different Republican, but only if McInnis wins the primary and then withdraws.

If that happens, something not uncommon in other states, the Colorado Republican Party’s central committee could name a replacement, such as state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, who dropped out of the GOP governor’s race last fall.

Ciruli said even someone like Penry still would have difficulties, not the least of which would be lack of campaign funding.

“They will look like the hand-picked person of the party bosses and the big interests,” Ciruli said. “This isn’t Chicago or New Jersey or a few other states where I’ve watched this take place. This is Colorado, and by and large we pride ourselves on clean politics.”

In addition to Democrats calling for McInnis to drop out of the race, the Post, which initially published the story revealing the plagiarism, ran an editorial Wednesday advising McInnis to “throw in the towel,” saying the matter has called into question his fitness for public office.

That opinion piece ran the same day the Post published a follow-up story saying McInnis may have plagiarized a guest column he wrote in 1994 for the Rocky Mountain News and revisited in a 1995 speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Both included identical wording from a column published just weeks earlier in the Washington Post.

The McInnis camp was circulating an e-mail Wednesday sent to the Denver Post from one of the authors of that original Washington Post piece, which was about North Korea and South Korea.

Daryl M. Plunk, a senior policy analyst with the Asian Studies Center of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C-based conservative think tank, said in the e-mail to Denver Post Political Editor Curtis Hubbard that McInnis did not plagiarize his work.

“I got to know Rep. McInnis and key members of his staff at that time, and I found that I generally agreed with the congressman’s views on U.S.-Korea relations,” Plunk wrote. “The congressman’s staff invited my input into both of those written works, and I was pleased to contribute to them in the editorial process. So while some of the words there indeed are mine, they are surely not ‘plagiarized.’ “

Complaint filed

Meanwhile, the progressive-leaning Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint Wednesday to the state’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, calling for a formal investigation into McInnis’ admitted plagiarizing of work he did in 2004 and 2005 for the Hasan Family Foundation on water issues, which included work written 20 years earlier by now-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs.

Luis Toro, the group’s director, said McInnis may have violated the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern how lawyers such as McInnis are required to follow to maintain their license to practice law.

He said the rules prohibit attorneys from engaging in dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation and require them to supervise non-lawyer assistants to ensure they, too, don’t violate the rules on an attorney’s behalf.

Regardless of whether McInnis plagiarized anything beyond what he already apologized for, or complaints filed against him as a result, Maes said it all points to what’s wrong with politics today.

“This is not directed at Scott, but the message is: We’re tired of career politicians, we’re tired of not being able to trust people, we’re tired of lies,” Maes said. “They just want someone they can trust and depend on and has character and principle.”


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