- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Scott Brown on Thursday blamed his staff for passages about his upbringing on his official Senate website that were lifted word for word from a 2002 speech by former Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Mr. Brown’s spokesman, John Donnelly, said excerpts of the speech were on Mrs. Dole’s website, which aides used as a template for his, and that the passages were transferred inadvertently without being rewritten.

The Democratic group American Bridge, which discovered the matching words, accused Mr. Brown, Massachusetts Republican, of plagiarism.

“This is just further proof that Scott Brown is not who the people of Massachusetts think he is,” Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge, said in a written statement. “The fact that he has plagiarized a personal values statement in a message to students really raises questions about just how genuine Scott Brown is.”

Mr. Donnelly denied any plagiarism, saying it was an innocent mistake by staffers.

Senator Dole’s website served as one of the models for Senator Brown’s website when he first took office. … It was a staff-level oversight which we regret and has been corrected,” Mr. Donnelly said in a statement.

The passages were about the values that parents instill in their children.

“I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,” was the message on Mr. Brown’s website that has since been removed. “From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.”

Passages from the speech by Mrs. Dole, a North Carolina politician who also ran for the presidency, were included in a message to students on her website.

“I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter, raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,” was the message on Mrs. Dole’s website. “From an early age, I was taught that success is measured, not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.”

Brian Nick, a spokesman for the former Mrs. Dole, said she viewed the episode as “an innocent mistake” by staff. Mr. Nick said that a lot of Senate offices use generic language from time to time.

Mr. Brown is running for re-election in 2012 for the seat long held by the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Recent polls show Elizabeth Warren, a consumer advocate and Harvard law professor, as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to take on Mr. Brown. Those polls also show Mr. Brown and Ms. Warren running roughly even in the blue state.