Rand Paul's Office: Staff Mix-Up Responsible for Plagiarism in Op-ed

Office imposes new footnote policy for 'collaborative works.'

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action in Washington on Oct. 11, 2013.
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is being accused of plagiarism again, this time for incorporating passages from someone else's Sept. 14 op-ed into a Sept. 20 editorial published under his name.

In a Tuesday morning statement to the press, Paul senior adviser Doug Stafford said a staff mix-up was responsible.

"In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions," Stafford said. "Sen. 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."

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Stafford added, "[f]ootnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used" in the past.

"Going forward," Stafford said, "footnotes will be available on request. There have also been occasions where quotations or typesetting indentations have been left out through errors in our approval process. From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete."

Two former Paul staffers confirmed to U.S. News that the senator, a prolific op-ed producer, relies on his staff to compose some passages.

The latest example of apparent plagiarism, reported Monday by Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed, comes after MSNBC host Rachel Maddow accused Paul on Oct. 28 of plagiarizing the Wikipedia description of the film "Gattaca" during a speech in Virginia.

Buzzfeed reported that several sentences in a Washington Times op-ed by Paul about mandatory prison terms were lifted in part or entirely from an editorial published a week earlier in The Week.

This sentence, for example, was wholly replicated: "At least 20 states, both red and blue, have reformed their mandatory-sentencing laws in some way, and Congress is considering a bipartisan bill that would do the same for federal crimes."

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Paul has not personally responded to the op-ed plagiarism, but on Wednesday brushed off Maddow's criticism as "a disagreement about how you footnote things."

Paul is openly considering a 2016 presidential campaign. Plagiarism controversies have derailed other past presidential campaigns, including the 1988 bid by Joe Biden, then a U.S. senator. Biden plagiarized a British politician's speech and a paper he wrote in law school.

Stafford said "[a]dherence to a new approval process implemented by Sen. Paul will ensure proper citation and accountability in all collaborative works going forward." It's unclear if any staff members will be disciplined.

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Corrected on : Correction 11/05/13: This story has been altered to reflect the correct date statements by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., were made.