From Biden to Lentol: Politicians who plagiarize
Assemblyman Joe Lentol faced a torrent of criticism from lawmakers and in the media last week after the Albany Times-Union reported that he lifted several paragraphs nearly verbatim from a memo by Airbnb in legislation that would benefit the home-sharing company.
Lentol’s bill, which would permit more short-term home rentals in New York City, was also attacked by the hotel industry, which cited the borrowed language as proof that the lawmaker is overly influenced by Airbnb.
It’s unclear whether the criticism will have any lasting damage, but the Brooklyn lawmaker is far from the first politician to be accused of plagiarizing someone else's work. Here are 11 other politicians who have faced similar accusations – and how the scandals played out.
Marine Le Pen
Earlier this month, Marine Le Pen, a far-right presidential candidate in France, was accused of plagiarizing sections of a May Day speech, according to The New York Times. She allegedly lifted parts of her speech from a speech given by her former conservative opponent, Francois Fillon.
OUTCOME: Le Pen lost to Emmanuel Macron.
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U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared to have copied at least two written answers she submitted to the Senate committee during her confirmation process, according to CNN. She was the second Trump pick to be accused of plagiarism after Crowley.
OUTCOME: A controversial pick for other reasons, DeVos nonetheless went on to be confirmed as U.S. education secretary.
Monica Crowley was considered for a post in Trump’s White House, but she was derailed by a CNN report that she plagiarized multiple times in her 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened.” Politico reported that she plagiarized parts of her doctoral dissertation, too.
OUTCOME: Crowley turned down a position with the National Security Council and HarperCollins withdrew the digital edition of her book.
In her speech to the 2016 Republican National Convention, Melania Trump was accused of using language from a speech given by First Lady Michele Obama in 2008. Her husband, Donald Trump, defended her afterwards and claimed she simply used common phrases.
OUTCOME: Melania Trump faced no responsibility. Her husband went on to be elected president and she became first lady.
In 2015 when he was mulling a presidential bid, Ben Carson failed to cite sources in his book “America the Beautiful,” Buzzfeed reported. He apologizedbut claimed it was an honest mistake.
OUTCOME: He ran for president and lost, though Trump appointed him HUD secretary.
Similar to Lentol, then-state Sen. Greg Ball appeared to lift language for the memo of a bill, the Times-Union found. But in this case, the legislation would have banned killer whales from water parks and aquariums in New York – and the borrowed language came from a 17-year-old student.
OUTCOME: Ball, who was also scrutinized by the Moreland Commission and faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment, declined to run for re-election and moved to Texas.
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John Walsh was appointed to the U.S. Senate to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, but when he ran for the seat in 2014, The New York Times reported that he had plagiarized a 2007 college paper.
OUTCOME: Walsh dropped out of the race. He also lost his master’s degree at the Army War College.
The former presidential candidate faced multiple plagiarism allegations in 2013, including in three pages of his book and part of a speech in which he borrowed from Wikipedia to describe the film “Gattaca.”
OUTCOME: Paul ran unsuccessfully run for president.
While running against Hillary Clinton in 2008, Barack Obama faced criticism that he used phrases from a campaign speech by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Patrick, an Obama ally, defended his friend.
OUTCOME: Obama went to win the primary against Clinton and served two terms as president.
While running for president in 1987, Joe Biden admitted he plagiarized from a legal article during law school. Biden was forced to drop out of the race, but ran again against former Barack Obama in 2008.
OUTCOME: He lost the Democratic nomination again, then joined the Democratic ticket as Obama’s running mate and ultimately served two terms as vice president.
The New York Times
Even the Times – which has a track record of exposing plagiarism – has occasionally gotten in trouble for it, too. Perhaps the most notable case was that of former reporter Jayson Blair. In a minor footnote, the Times also once plagiarized City Hall and The Capitol – the predecessors of City & State.
OUTCOME: Blair resigned in disgrace. In the second case, the Times apologized for lifting a section of a story on then-Lt. Gov. David Paterson that first appeared in City Hall and The Capitol.