WI Dem cut-and-paste campaign even less original than previously thought

When will Mary Burke transform her message from its union-oriented populism to a stirring defense of outsourcing? Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski has found yet another instance of cut-and-paste policymaking in the Wisconsin Democrat’s gubernatorial campaign platform, giving him the hat trick. Burke’s campaign will have to explain — again — her lack of engagement on the issues that supposedly matter to her:


More sections of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s rural communities plan appear to be copied directly from a variety of sources.

The copied text includes failed 2010 Nevada gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid, a newspaper article, and a Wisconsin school press release.

As in previous instances, some of Burke’s plan includes links to sources in plan’s footnotes, but Burke’s plan doesn’t indicate the words are taken directly from the source.

One of the more amusing aspects of this scandal is the exposure of Burke’s sources of thought. Most of the campaigns from which Burke has lifted her positions come from losing efforts, which seem like a curious source for a cut-and-paste approach to campaigning. It also makes the title of her jobs plan, the first exposed in this scandal, hilariously ironic: “Invest for Success.” How can you put that on a campaign site while lifting material from Rory Reid?

Burke tried defending herself earlier by claiming she put “hundreds of hours” into her jobs plan, but didn’t quite explain why she didn’t put a few of those hours into drafting original language:

Eliana Johnson calls Burke “Wisconsin’s dilettante,” and suggests that this is a pattern for the heiress to a family fortune:

In an election being litigated primarily on economic issues, Mary Burke has touted her business experience. But it’s the sort of business experience only an heiress could afford: a couple of years spent toiling at a failed start-up company and two stints working for her father. Between her two tours at Trek, Burke spent a couple of years “as a snowboard bum in Colorado.” (That’d be from the Harvard Business School alumni bulletin, not her campaign website.) At Trek, she ran the company’s European division, and has said she increased international sales by a whopping $47 million, but the company denied PolitiFact’s request to verify the number.

The private sector, it turns out, wasn’t really for her. “While I have the business background, I really — how should I say this? — I prefer the work in the public sector,” Burke told Politico in an interview.

By her mid 40s, she’d left to become a philanthropist and told Democratic governor Jim Doyle’s political team when it expressed interest in bringing her aboard — she was eventually appointed to run the state’s Department of Commerce — that she wasn’t sure she wanted to “reenter the full-time work force.” The only elected position Burke has ever held is a seat on the Madison school board. Now, she wants to become governor.


The local media is covering the “plagiarism” in the jobs plan, but not the rest of it, at least so far:

Note, though, that Burke claimed earlier this week that the cut-and-paste approach “wasn’t representative” of her campaign. It certainly seems to be now, and Kaczynski may not be finished.

Update: And fittingly, another Democratic gubernatorial candidate has plagiarized  — from Burke:

Democratic gubernatorial South Dakota nominee appears to have plagiarized parts of her issues page from Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, who herself is embattled in a plagiarism snafu of her own.

Oddly, Susan Wismer actually copies from a biographical section of Burke’s campaign material, placing her name where Burke’s appeared.

A spokesperson for the Wismer campaign told Buzzfeed News they admitted to the mistake saying, “we will be making any changes necessary” and similarities “will be taken care of.”

Shades of Joe Biden! Wismer’s at least in the right party for that kind of “borrowing.”

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