MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democrat Mary Burke doesn’t plan to make any changes to her jobs plan or other campaign proposals, her campaign spokesman said Thursday, dismissing Republican complaints that she did not properly attribute material taken from other sources.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker and other Burke opponents have accused her of plagiarism since news broke last week that four passages from her signature jobs plan were identical to wording used by four other Democratic gubernatorial candidates. The Republican Governors Association is currently running a television ad attacking Burke over the issue.
Burke blamed it on consultant Eric Schnurer, who was working as a subcontractor for her media firm. Burke said she cut ties with Schnurer.
However, Burke hasn’t changed any of the wording in question. When asked about it following a Thursday news conference, Burke said she would take action to clarify the source of material in her plans, if necessary.
“Certainly, anything that is not directly from Eric that should be cited would be cited,” Burke said.
Burke’s spokesman Joe Zepecki said later that after a review, it was determined no changes will be made.
“Where cites are appropriate, they have been made,” he said. “In other instances work product that has been identified as coming from Mr. Schnurer has been addressed by cutting ties with him.”
In addition to the passages in the jobs plan, several other phrases and snippets in other Burke proposals that appear to be identical to documents written by others have been called into question by Walker and Republicans. Much of that material was cited.
Burke was asked Thursday for her definition of plagiarism. Burke stumbled in answering: “This, this probably, using words, exact words, from a source that doesn’t, that isn’t cited and isn’t attributable.”
Burke said she did not violate her own principles when putting together her jobs plan because the passages in question that appeared in other plans were all written by the same consultant.
“It’s not an issue of using words that shouldn’t have been used,” she said. “It’s more a case of just not using the same words.”
When asked about it Wednesday, Walker said Burke touted her jobs plan as something she crafted based on her holding an MBA from the Harvard Business School and her experience as an executive at Trek Bicycles.
“Kind of rubbed our nose in it, said that our previous documents were no better than an eighth-grade term paper,” Walker said. “Well, I think even an eighth grader knows you don’t take someone’s words word-for-word and plug them into a document and claim it’s your own.”
Burke said she made no secrets about looking for the best ideas when putting together her jobs plan, including work from the consultant.
“I’ll be clear about this, as governor I am going to welcome ideas from other places, the best ideas and best practices,” Burke said. “That’s what we did at Trek Bicycle and that’s how we’re going to make sure that Wisconsin has a thriving economy.”
Associated Press writer M.L. Johnson contributed to this report from Milwaukee.
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