More plagiarism accusations against Sen. Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted a list of his grievances to celebrate the fake holiday of "Festivus." Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., already in hot water over accusations that he plagiarized portions of his book and several recent speeches, has a new headache to contend with: On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that additional passages from his book "Government Bullies" were plagiarized from articles by think tank academics.

Paul has previously sustained fire from critics for copying portions of his book from conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, and he has also faced accusations that he plagiarized several Wikipedia articles as well as an Associated Press article in recent speeches.

In this most recent episode, Paul copied nearly word-for-word an article by Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation that was published in January 2012 in "Regulation," a quarterly journal from the Cato Institute. He also included a near-verbatim copy of a section from the same journal written in 2010 by law professor Jonathan Adler.

In his article, Sandefur described the case of the Sackett family, who was locked in a disagreement with the Environmental Protection Agency over land use regulations: "The Sacketts requested a hearing before the EPA, where they could challenge the agency's claim that their property is a wetland and is subject to federal regulation. But the EPA refused. According to the agency, the CWA does not give property owners any right to a hearing about compliance orders."

Paul's version of events was nearly identical: "They requested a hearing before the EPA where they could challenge the agency's claim that their property was a wetland. The EPA refused. According to the agency, the Clean Water Act does not give property owners any right to a hearing regarding compliance orders."

Adler, in his article, described the crusade of John Rapanos, who had waged his own land-use battles with the EPA: "Rapanos was not a revolutionary decision, but a logical sequel to SWANCC. In Rapanos the Supreme Court reaffirmed the existence of both statutory and constitutional limits on the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction over private lands and waters. The Court rejected the Army Corps and epa's expansive interpretation of their own authority, and reaffirmed that federal regulatory authority only extends to those wetlands that have a "significant nexus" to navigable waters of the United States."

Paul's version: "The state of property rights in the aftermath of Rapanos v. United States was not a sea change, but rather a logical sequel to SWANCC. In the Rapanos decision, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the existence of both statutory and constitutional limits on the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction over private lands and waters. The Supreme Court rejected the EPA and the Army Corps' expansive interpretation of their own authority, and reiterated that federal regulatory authority only extends to those wetlands that have "significant nexus" to navigable waters of the United States."

In reaction to Paul's mimicry, Adler seemed inclined to cut the embattled senator some slack. "As an academic, it's always gratifying to know that my work is being read and cited by policymakers. Quotes would be nice, and it's unfortunate that Sen. Paul's staff was not more careful, but spreading the ideas is more important," Adler told Buzzfeed. "Sen. Paul is hardly the first politician to appropriate the words of others without following proper citation conventions, and he will not be the last."

But the mounting accusations of plagiarism are beginning to take their toll. On Tuesday, the Washington Times announced that it was cutting ties with Paul, who had been authoring a once-weekly opinion column for the newspaper, after reviewing the allegations against him.

But all is not lost for fans of Paul's editorial musings: On Wednesday, conservative media fixture Breitbart.com announced that Paul's column will now run on its website.

As the criticism piles up, Paul has struck a decidedly defiant tone, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos last Sunday that he would like to challenge his critics to a "duel."

"But I can't do that, because I can't hold office in Kentucky then," he added.

But that combative approach had its limits. After previously blaming the row on "haters" and political opponents, Paul told CNN on Tuesday that the buck ultimately stops with him. "Ultimately, I'm the boss, and things go out under my name, so it is my fault," he said. "I never had intentionally presented anyone's ideas as my own."

He also vowed to revamp his citation process going forward. "What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we're going to do them like college papers," he told the New York Times on Tuesday. "We're going to try to put out footnotes."

  • Jake Miller

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