A day after Sunday’s fireworks at the U.S. Senate debate, the conservative scholar whose February 2011 research paper appeared in part among Republican Linda McMahon’s campaign proposals said he’s flattered, overall, that the work has become part of Connecticut’s political discussion. But he also wishes she had put his language in quotes.
“We’re never going to solve anything without public discourse,” said Jason J. Fichtner, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s conservative Mercatus Center, during a Monday interview. “I am actually very glad to hear my ideas are being debated in a policy context,” he said. “That’s part of why I do what I do.”
McMahon took at least three sentences verbatim from Fichtner’s work on reducing federal spending, plus other direct quotes from the National Association of Manufacturers and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, the Democratic Senate candidate, accused her of plagiarism.
Fichtner, whose paper was entitled “The 1 Percent Solution,” said that direct copying of his work should have been put in quotes and credit inserted nearby.
“When you are using somebody else’s words, word for word, proper attribution protects the context in which they were written,” he said, noting that the issue of plagiarism seems now to have become a “distraction” in the Senate campaign.
Should McMahon have given Fichtner some compensation for using his paper?
“The fact that Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy are using the ideas is payment enough,” Ficntner said. “We should be demanding that more candidates use research.”
The McMahon campaign says her proposals, released in March, contained credits in the PDF version that is online.
But the online version — including her 6-point plan that visitors to her website are invited to read — did not receive individual footnote citations until sometime between Friday night and Saturday, according to Murphy’s campaign, brandishing screen shots to make their case. That was around the time the McMahon campaign began responding to Murphy’s claims of plagiarism.
McMahon’s campaign disputes that, saying there have always been citations on the website and that the screenshots are “irrelevant.”