Walker Alleges Plagiarism After Burke’s Economic Plan Is Found To Be Partly Copied

Burke Campaign Fires Consultant Responsible For Portions Copied Verbatim From Other Democratic Plans

Above, Burke at a campaign event earlier this summer. Photo: Shawn Johnson/WPR News.

Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election campaign is accusing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke of plagiarism, after the website Buzzfeed reported on Thursday that Burke’s economic plan for the state used language that was copied word for word from Democratic plans in Tennessee, Delaware and Indiana.

Burke has agreed that her staff shouldn’t have copied policies verbatim, but said that the underlying ideas of her economic plan are well-researched, and that using ideas that have worked in other states is no different from what she did as an executive at the Trek Bicycle Corporation.

“Of course we drew on best practices, not only from other companies in the industry but those outside the industry, and made sure that we were looking at how we were going to get better as a company,” she said. “Those are called ‘best practices.’”

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It isn’t unusual for politicians to cut and paste ideas from other politicians. According to University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist Joe Heim, Democrats have frequently complained about Republican state legislators introducing bills drafted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

“Some legislation has been handwritten by outside groups that shows up in the state Legislature,” said Heim. “You could argue that that’s plagiarized, but I just don’t see that in a state campaign as being that significant.”

Political scientist Mordecai Lee of UW-Milwaukee said that with polls showing the race in a dead heat right now, the bigger question is whether this controversy will shift the views of the estimated 5 percent of voters that polls show are still undecided.

“I think the issue is if this will unlock the undecideds and if they’ll break for Scott Walker,” said Lee.

However, he said that if those voters are still undecided after four years of Walker’s administration, it’s unlikely this is the issue that will change their minds.