McInnis Says Plagiarism Was Mistake

Foundation Wants Money Back; McInnis Promises Fix

Republican Scott McInnis said the plagiarism in a series of articles he submitted to the foundation was a simple mistake, and he would sit down with the foundation to "get it fixed."

Speaking to CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia, McInnis, who is running for governor, also said the only reason it is a story is because he is running for office.

The Hasan Family Foundation, which paid McInnis a total of $300,000 in 2005 and 2006 to write articles about water law, expressed their outrage Tuesday, saying the foundation "will demand Mr. McInnis return all monies paid to him by the Foundation."

McInnis conceded that parts of a series of articles he submitted to the Hasan Foundation were plagiarized from a 1984 article by now-Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs. He said the mistake was made by a research assistant -- a former engineer at the Colorado River Water Conservation District -- who thought the article was in the "public domain," but McInnis couldn't clearly say what he contributed to the work.

"Who wrote these articles?" Ferrugia asked.

"I had staff assistance, I had research, and as you know, the research - that's where the problem is here," McInnis said.

"But who wrote the articles?" Ferrugia asked.

"Well, I had staff assistance and I edited the articles, they went in under my name," McInnis said. "Well, I edited them but I didn't run them through a check to see if they, I mean, from our expert, Rollie, you know he's an expert in water for three or four decades. So I took what he said at face value."

"Did you write the articles or did you edit them?" Ferrugia asked.

"Hindsight being perfect, I would have," McInnis said. "No, I can, I mean, the articles were written with staff assistance. Just like when I do a bill in Congress or when I did the forest plan, I had a lot of staff assistance. I had a lot of economic experts."

In an memo McInnis wrote while submitting some of the articles, he assured the Hasan foundation that the work was carefully "documented" and "proofed." But he conceded in the interview that he should have looked closer at his research assistant's work.

"So you never checked his work?" Ferrugia asked.

"Lesson learned," McInnis said. "You know, three or four decades, I've known him all my life. He's a man of complete integrity, he's a credible guy, so no I didn't, that's where a mistake was made."

McInnis also said his researcher was not cited in the articles.

"Well, obviously, the writing went in under my name," McInnis said. "It went under my name. I mean, I didn't write every word."

McInnis declined to say how much he paid the researcher.

"I don't discuss staff salaries," he said.

McInnis also dismissed the controversy, saying it is driven by politics in his race for governor.

"The mistake is real and the mistake should not have occurred," he said. "The jabs, the reason you're sitting here and so on and so forth, of course it is driven by politics."

"Do you believe questions about plagiarism ... is politics or do you think it something that should be addressed," Ferrugia asked.

"Obviously, it's being addressed," McInnis said. "I am telling you, I acknowledge the mistake. The research was faulty to the extent it was not properly footnoted."

On Tuesday, Seeme Hasan, chairwoman for the foundation, released a statement, saying they did not know McInnis was working with an adviser and they hired McInnis to do the work himself.

"If indeed Mr. McInnis was working with a 'research advisor,' it was never brought to our attention, nor authorized," the statement said. "The work that the Foundation hired Mr. McInnis to do was to be done solely by Mr. McInnis, and not in concert with anyone else."

McInnis said he will talk to the foundation leadership and do what is right.

"I want to sit down with them and we will get it fixed, to make it right," McInnis said. "A mistake was made. We have to correct the mistake."

Colorado Republicans were divided on how the flap would affect the primary, but McInnis wouldn't be the first politician possibly undone by plagiarism.

Earlier this year, Idaho Republican Vaughn Ward lost a congressional primary after being accused of ripping off position statements on his website from other Republican candidates. In 1987, Vice President Joe Biden saw his first presidential campaign wilt after he acknowledged plagiarizing a British politician's campaign speeches.

McInnis' Republican primary opponent, businessman Dan Maes, faulted McInnis for blaming a research assistant.

"You can't point fingers, you can't blame others, you have to take responsibility for something you put your name on and take $300,000 for," Maes said.

The same day McInnis' plagiarism was reported, Maes agreed to pay a $17,500 fine for campaign finance violations, including improper mileage reimbursement.

Maes supporters seized on the McInnis plagiarism.

"He's not always above board, that's what it says to me," said Lu Busse of Larkspur, a 912 Project volunteer.

Others weren't so sure.

"I just feel like between the two of them, they're stumbling to see who's not going to lose," said Nathan Hatcher, a suburban Denver Republican activist who backs McInnis.

The winner of the Aug. 10 primary will face Democrat John Hickenlooper. The Denver mayor has no primary competition.