Over the last week, multiple allegations of plagiarism have been levelled at Sen. Rand Paul. In a couple speeches, Paul repeated Wikipedia descriptions of the films Gattaca and Stand and Deliver. A column he recently wrote for The Washington Times has lines that are nearly identical to one that was published in The Week a week earlier. He's borrowed language from the Associated Press, and he parroted information from Focus the Family during a speech earlier this year. And, oops — some of his book Government Bullies comes straight from the mouths of researchers at the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. Paul has responded to the allegations by challenging the "hacks and haters" to a duel, if dueling were still legal in Kentucky. "The footnote police have really been dogging me for the last week," he said in an interview on Sunday.
Now, Paul's senior adviser Doug Stafford has officially responded to the mounting allegations by saying basically, stuff slips through the cracks.
"In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions. 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. ... 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."
To be clear, the examples of Paul's plagiarism go beyond errors in "typesetting indentations" (by which Stafford seems to mean block quotes, like the one above). So how serious are these allegations? It's pretty clear that Paul plagiarized, but the information that he copied was basic facts (like the plot of Gattaca), or conservative ideas we already knew he believes. And as Stafford admits, it was probably Paul's staff that got sloppy with citations, not Paul himself. Further, the people Paul plagiarized don't seem to have their shorts in a twist over it. The Week's editor-in-chief Bill Falk just appreciates the publicity. He told Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski:
"We’ve always known that the audience of The Week consists of smart, busy people who want to feel even smarter, including a lot of people on Capitol Hill. We’d like to thank Sen. Paul for his endorsement."
And spokespeople at the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute were quick to say they don't mind that Paul parroted their ideals.