Politics

Three Pages Of Rand Paul’s Book Were Plagiarized From Think Tanks

The worst case yet. Paul’s office says the book notes Paul didn’t individually report out each case.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

An entire section of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s 2013 book Government Bullies was copied wholesale from a 2003 case study by the Heritage Foundation, BuzzFeed has learned. The copied section, 1,318 words, is by far the most significant instance reported so far of Paul borrowing language from other published material.

The new cut-and-paste job follows reports by BuzzFeed, Politico, and MSNBC that Paul had plagiarized speeches either from Wikipedia or news reports. The book was published in August 2013 by Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group.

In this case, Paul included a link to the Heritage case study in the book’s footnotes, though he made no effort to indicate that not just the source, but the words themselves, had been taken from Heritage.

A Paul aide defended the senator, saying he makes clear in the book’s “notes and sources” that he didn’t individually research each case.

“In the book Government Bullies all the information… was sourced by end notes. In the two cases described, the end notes clearly define the sourcing for the book. In no case has the senator used information without attribution,” said Doug Stafford, an advisor to Sen. Paul who co-wrote the book. “There were 150 endnotes and cites including The Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute. This is a witch hunt and grasping at straws.”

The copied text relates to the 2003 case of David McNab, a Honduran businessman who, along with three American businesspeople, was convicted of multiple felony counts related to the illegal harvest and importation of Caribbean spiny lobster tails in violation of the 1900 Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the trafficking of illegal wildlife.

According to the Justice Department indictment, McNab and his employees “[h]arvested lobster that were under the legal size limit set by Honduras. They also harvested egg-bearing lobsters in violation of Honduran regulations and harvested lobster and shrimp during the closed seasons set by Honduras. To conceal the catch of egg-bearing lobsters, the parts of the lobster tails to which the eggs were attached were clipped off.”

Paul argued in his book the case was outrageous based on the fact no charges were brought in Honduras, McNabb lacked criminal intent, and the Honduran law was invalid.

Here’s what the Heritage Foundation writes on its website, Overcriminalized.com:

This prosecution also reveals the risks of federalizing criminal law. Observers have long warned against allowing the federal government to encroach on the traditional state function of enacting and enforcing general criminal laws. Here, the federal government, through the Lacey Act, claims to enforce foreign laws against foreign and U.S. citizens. These regulations were not made by the U.S. Congress or by some executive agency, but by a foreign government with unfamiliar procedures. If the government of Honduras had actually believed these regulations to be valid, they were free to bring charges. Instead, the U.S. government prosecuted a case on what turned out to be bad law.

Here’s the nearly identical section of Paul’s book:

This prosecution also reveals the risks of federalizing criminal law. Observers have long warned against allowing the federal government to encroach on the traditional state function of enacting and enforcing general criminal laws. Here, the federal government, through the Lacey Act, claims to enforce foreign laws against foreign and U.S. citizens. These regulations were not made by the U.S. Congress or by some executive agency, but by a foreign government with unfamiliar procedures. If the government of Honduras had actually believed these regulations to be valid, they were free to bring charges. Instead, the U.S. government prosecuted a case on what turned out to be bad law.

The similarities don’t end there. The highlighted excerpts of Paul’s book embedded below appear verbatim in the Heritage Foundation case study. It runs just more than three pages.

Asked about the copied text Mike Gonzalez, vice president of communications for the Heritage Foundation, said, “We like when people cite our work. We wish more progressives would cite our work, maybe then they wouldn’t be so progressively wrong.”

Later, after this story went live, the Heritage spokesman called BuzzFeed back to say “we don’t care” about the copy job.

The books “notes and sources” reads:

“This book is not an investigative book. Many of the stories told and information reported represent work already done by others. Rather than endlessly noting multiple sourced items mixed in with personal conversations and research, we have included here other sources of information for the stories presented. Some are activist websites. Some are blogs. Some are reporters. Some are government websites with official releases of information. All of these sources contributed in one way or another to the finished material in this book, and I am grateful for the work many individuals have done in various fields to help expose these government bullies.”

Attempts to contact the book’s publisher were not successful. Messages sent to two different contacts were not returned.

In another instance in the book, several sentences appeared similar to a report by a senior fellow at the Cato Institute Mark Moller in the National Wetlands Newsletter. Moller said he had not given anyone permission to reprint any parts of his article.

The text was once again cited in the footnotes but the words were passed off as Sen. Paul’s.

“Our ideas got in the book, we got credited in the notes. So that seems like a good thing for a think tank,” David Boaz, the executive VP of the Cato Institute said after BuzzFeed was asked to call him by Paul’s office.

After BuzzFeed pointed out the article ran in a the National Wetlands Newsletter and only the PDF was pasted on Cato Boaz said “from his point of view he was researching using Cato.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow discovered last Monday that Paul had plagarized a section of his speech at Liberty University about the movie Gattica from Wikipedia. A follow up report by BuzzFeed the next day found a June 12, 2013 speech on immigration plagiarized a section the Wikipedia article on the movie Stand and Deliver.

Paul defended himself in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Thursday, arguing that it was simply a matter of citation practices and that he didn’t plagiarize the movie’s plot.

“It’s a disagreement over how you footnote things, and I think people footnote things different in an academic paper than they do in a public speech, but if we were going to present any of these speeches for publication they’d have footnotes in.”

The speeches appear on Paul’s website, without footnotes.

On Thursday night, a senior advisor to Sen. Paul pledged the Kentucky senator would be “more cautious in presenting and attributing sources” in the future after Politico confronted the office with two more instances of plagiarism.

Politico found Paul copied language in his 2013 speech responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address from the Associated Press and a 2010 passage from the magazine of the social conservative group Focus on the Family in a speech at Howard University.

The following three pages are the text that is similar to the Heritage case study:

The following is the text similar to the article by the Cato scholar:

The following is the text similar to the article by the Cato scholar:

The following is the text similar to the article by the Cato scholar:

How Paul cites the work:

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