Buzzfeed finds more lifted text in Mary Burke's campaign; Update: Burke: Hey, no biggie

Last week, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski exposed Democrat Mary Burke’s jobs plan for Wisconsin in her gubernatorial challenge to Scott Walker as nothing more than a hodgepodge of passages lifted from other Democratic campaigns in other states. Burke immediately fired the political consultant who pieced together the jobs plan, but that’s not the end of the problem for the Wisconsin Democrat. Kaczynski spent a little more time researching Burke’s other issues-related material and spotted evidence of heavy recycling there, too:

Sections of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s veterans and rural communities plans appear to copy text directly from a variety of sources.

The sources include, but are not limited to, academic journals and reports, and a local newspaper column.

In other instances, the sources are linked in plan’s footnotes, though Burke’s plan makes little effort to indicate that not just the source, but the words themselves were taken from the sources.

In some of these passages, the Burke campaign provided footnotes to the source material, but not in all cases. Even where footnotes exist, they don’t indicate the wholesale lifting of text. Put bluntly, the extent of unmarked direct quoting would constitute an academic violation at Burke’s Harvard, and in many other schools as well.

It may not be plagiarism in the classic sense, since this is a campaign rather than a publication and the sources seem mainly non-proprietary. It is, however, an indication that Burke simply isn’t seriously engaged on policy, or on her own campaign other than just getting elected. Once again, the problem with Mary Burke’s campaign is an absence of original thought.

Burke claimed over the weekend to be “disappointed” in Eric Schnurer after firing him over the first revelations. Burke told local media that the ideas were hers and that reliance on outside data and sources shouldn’t include “exact verbiage” from them:

Burke says plans come from a wide array of sources, but shouldn’t be exact verbage.

“I would not have put those ideas in my plan if i didn’t think they were right for Wisconsin,” says Burke.

Burke says she did not know about the copied text until her communications director called her last night.

And now Burke will certainly claim not to know that her other policy positions in her own campaign turn out to be cut-and-paste jobs, too. That will lead Wisconsin voters to ask just what about Burke’s campaign is her own thoughts and words, as well as question her ability as an executive. So far, Burke hasn’t exactly impressed as an executive with the running of her political campaign, and one has to wonder what voters can expect if she becomes the CEO of state government. With the majority of Wisconsin voters liking the direction of the state under Walker, these revelations will make them less and less likely to opt for new leadership, especially when the alternative is amateurish incompetence.

Update: When asked about the latest cut-and-paste revelations, Burke said they were “very small” parts:

Asked about BuzzFeed News’ latest report that Burke had copied language from a variety of sources including academic journals and reports, a local newspaper column, and others the Wisconsin Democrat dismissed the instances as “very small” and “extremely limited” passages.

“My jobs plan is about 45 pages long,” Burke said. “In addition, I’ve put out a rural plan on how we can make sure that rural communities around the statement are growing and thriving — which has been a real issue. We’ve lost nearly 9,000 farms over a five-year period of time. I want to make sure that the people of Wisconsin understand the type of governor and the plans I have for moving the state forward.”

If that’s the case, then why did she fire Schnurer?

Jazz Shaw Aug 17, 2022 11:01 AM ET