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Blogger busts VT Congressional candidate for plagiarism

By None:

In Vermont, there's a spirited congressional campaign underway for the seat held by Congressman Bernie Sanders.

A Vermont blogger, Julie Waters, noticed a handful of familiar words and phrases in statements issued by the GOP candidates - Martha Rainville. Here's the story:

...so she did what she does when she cross-checks papers prepared by her psychology students at the Community College of Vermont. "I did a plagiarism check," she said. "You know, to see if anybody is cutting and pasting. In my class, if someone does this, they don't get the credit." ...

In one instance, Rainville made a statement about energy that read, in part, "I strongly believe that our present system of energy is weakening our national security, hurting our pocketbooks and threatening our children's future."

Months earlier, Sen. Clinton, in a speech, said, "Our present system of energy is weakening our national security, hurting our pocketbooks, violating our common values and threatening our children's future."

In another instance, Rainville issued a press release on Sept. 8 that read, in part, "We need maximum transparency for government. There should be no secrets unless it involves critical aspects of national security. Every earmark, every grant, every contract should be online so the public can get access to it."

Two weeks earlier, Cooper, the Tennessee Democrat, gave an interview on PBS' NOW program, saying, "I think we need maximum transparency for government. There should be no secrets unless it involves certain parts of national security. Every earmark, every grant, every contract should be online so that the public can get access to it."

She blogged it, and didn't take long for every blogger and reporter in the state to take notice. Of course, you know what comes next: damage control.

"The individual responsible is no longer a worker for the campaign," Rainville said. "The words were lifted from other people and not attributed to them and made to look like my statements. This is totally and completely unacceptable."

Rainville identified the staffer as 29-year-old Christopher Stewart of Burlington. "This person had worked for me for several months during the campaign, he admitted what he has done and he is no longer with the campaign," she said.

Of course, there's an amusing code to the story from the Times Argus. Noting that plagiarism can sometimes be a fuzzy thing to define, it has a lot in common with pornography.

Stewart, the fired staffer, is the grandson of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who served on the bench for 22 years before retiring in 1981. He is perhaps best known for his opinion in an obscenity case, in which he said pornography was hard to define, but that "I know it when I see it."