GOP candidate Les Otten accused of plagiarizing

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Maine political blogs this morning are abuzz with news that Republican candidate for governor Les Otten heavily lifted words from a conservative think tank’s work for use in his response to an education poll by The Augusta Insider.

The Pine Tree Politics blog reported on Friday that Les Otten plagiarized a statement made by the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s Steve Bowen to the Legislature’s Education Committee last March. A political blog, The Augusta Insider, had asked gubernatorial candidates their opinion of Maine’s Race to the Top for education funding — a challenge possibly netting $75 million in education funding from the federal government if certain reform goals are met. 

Otten responded to the criticism in an interview in the Portland Press Herald, saying only two paragraphs were plagiarized.  “We made an error,” he said to PPH reporter Meridith Goad. “We were made aware of the error, and we immediately corrected it and apologized for it. I’d like to tell you that I’m perfect. I’m not. But what I do believe is that when you make a mistake you need to own up to it immediately and apologize for it, and that’s what I’ve done.”

The Bangor Daily News has reported the Otten fired the campaign staffer over the incident.

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Maine Heritage Policy Center’s Bowen disagreed that Otten had used only two paragraphs. He responded: “We do not intend for our work to be used in a way that implies we endorse a specific political candidate, nor do we expect candidates to slyly suggest in their statements that we are somehow working behind the scenes to advance their campaigns.”

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