Les Otten - Republican

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Les Otten - Republican

Post by T on Tue May 04, 2010 5:32 am

Otten campaign suffers setback with plagiarism
By Editorial Board
May 04, 2010 12:00 am

Normally, the Maine Heritage Policy Center would be happy to know a candidate for governor had adopted its position on an issue.

But the organization has a right to be miffed when a candidate takes the center's word-for-word testimony and presents it as his own.

Friday, the website Pine Tree Politics revealed that gubernatorial candidate Les Otten had responded to questions from the website Augusta Insider by lifting passages from testimony a MHPC staffer delivered at a legislative hearing.

Otten was responding to a question about Maine's efforts to obtain Race to the Top funding, the federal initiative designed to encourage states to make substantial changes in the way they educate children.

One of Otten's responses to the Insider: "The catch is that this is a competitive grant program. States across the nation have responded by passing comprehensive reform legislation that moves their states forward in a dramatic fashion."

According to a printed account of MHPC legislative testimony delivered by Stephen Bowen: "The catch is that this is a competitive grant program. States across the nation have responded by passing comprehensive reform legislation that moves their states forward in a dramatic fashion."

This and other wording by Otten wasn't even an attempt to loosely paraphrase Bowen's comments, rather it showed wholesale theft of his ideas.

Which, by the way, is the definition of plagiarism: Taking another's words and passing them off as your own. According to the Legal Dictionary, the original is from the Latin "plagiarius," which means "literally, kidnapper."

In this case, Otten or one of his staffers might as well have clubbed Bowen's ideas over the head, thrown them in a car trunk and driven off with them.

For his part, Otten was quick to apologize, calling it an "inadvertent oversight as the final draft of our response was being prepared." Maine Public Broadcasting was reporting Friday afternoon that Otten had fired a campaign consultant as a result of the incident.

Bowen, according to the Portland Press Herald, was not accepting Otten's explanation. "The tone of their response is, I guess, what bugged me," he told the Press Herald. "It suggested it was inadvertent and accidental, and I don't believe it was."

The exact word-by-word nature of Otten's answer strongly suggest Bowen's right.

While the episode is certainly a black mark for the Otten campaign, this incident alone should not derail his campaign.

As oft happens, however, one case of plagiarism inspires journalists, bloggers and rival campaigns to dig through the candidate's past statements.

Otten had better hope they find this was an isolated incident and not a pattern.

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Re: Les Otten - Republican

Post by T on Tue May 04, 2010 8:55 pm


Taxes and Plagiarism


It is discouraging that Les Otten, a Republican candidate for governor, passed off another man’s work as his own. Sadly, it is another example of his willingness to play loose with the facts.

On Monday, the Otten campaign fired a consultant it initially refused to name after it was revealed that the candidate’s written response to a question from the Augusta Insider website was nearly identical to testimony given by Stephen Bowen, of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, to the Legislature. The paragraphs in question were about Maine’s response to the federal Race to the Top program.

The campaign apologized for the apparent plagiarism, although Mr. Bowen was not satisfied. “The tone of their response is, I guess, what bugged me,” he told the Portland Press Herald. “It suggested it was inadvertent and accidental, and I don’t believe it was.”

Apparently, simply giving Mr. Bowen credit didn’t cross the minds of anyone in the Otten campaign.

Last year, the campaign was accused of copying Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign logo, an O with flaglike stripes across the bottom. The logo is no longer used on Mr. Otten’s campaign literature.

During a recent interview with the Bangor Daily News, Mr. Otten spent much of the time decrying the state’s high taxes, especially its capital gains and estate taxes. These high levies have driven many of the state’s most prominent residents away from Maine, he said, adding that “we all know who they are.” Pressed to identify those who have fled Maine because of its high tax rate, he listed George Mitchell, Bill Cohen, Stephen King and others.

George Mitchell, who maintains a home in Northeast Harbor, resides and works in New York. According to an analysis by Mr. Otten’s campaign, New York’s total tax burden is barely distinguishable from Maine’s. As a percentage of personal income, total tax collections in New York are higher than in Maine, according to the campaign’s so-called tax white paper.

So, if former Sen. Mitchell, who has worked all over the world at the behest of presidents and other leaders, truly chose New York to escape Maine’s tax burden, he didn’t make a very wise choice.

Likewise, Mr. Cohen stayed in the Washington, D.C., area after leaving the U.S. Senate because President Bill Clinton nominated him to serve as his secretary of defense. He has continued to work there presumably because the clients of his consulting group are primarily in Washington or need work done there.

Mr. King, contrary to Mr. Otten’s assertion, has not left Maine. His primary residence is here and he votes here, according to his office. Further, Mr. King and his wife, Tabitha, have donated millions of dollars to charities and projects throughout Maine, showing they care more about sharing their wealth than keeping it to themselves by paying lower taxes.

There is plenty to criticize about Maine’s tax system and burden without making things up.

Candidates — and even governors — sometimes get confused, but when they perpetuate falsehoods or pass off others’ ideas as their own, their integrity deserves close scrutiny.

Bangor Daily News

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Re: Les Otten - Republican

Post by T on Tue May 04, 2010 9:13 pm

Not only plagiarism from Otten, but a lack of facts

Sunday May 02, 2010 | 04:01 PM

Posted by Matthew Stone mstone@centralmaine.com

I'm admittedly late to this story, but Maine's political blogosphere is abuzz about an instance of plagiarism by GOP gubernatorial candidate Les Otten. Credit Matt Gagnon of Pine Tree Politics for breaking this story first and following up on it here and here. There's also been one mention in the MaineToday Media newspapers.

The story started with an excellent education policy questionnaire sent out by the blogs Augusta Insider and Dirigo Blue. Question 2 asked candidates their thoughts on the federal Race to the Top competition and their assessment of Maine's chances in the competitive grant challenge.

Otten's response, almost word for word, reiterates the testimony of Steve Bowen of the Maine Heritage Policy Center in early March when the Legislature's Education Committee was deliberating three bills aimed at bolstering Maine's Race to the Top chances.

(The Otten campaign says the questionnaire response was an oversight by staff members, and that the intent was to credit Bowen.)

Gagnon and Bowen have already done the word-for-word analysis to determine that the Otten response was plagiarism. Now it's time to take a look at the content of his response:

• In Bowen's early-March words, Otten discusses the "innovative schools" proposal legislators approved meant to serve as a compromise toward adopting the Obama administration-favored charter schools. However, his response describes initiative as simply a proposal, without bothering to update the fact that legislators approved the bill, Gov. John Baldacci signed it, and it's now law.

• Otten, via Bowen, says, "Maine is doing nothing to intervene in chronically underperforming schools," without mentioning the fact that, since Bowen delivered his testimony, the Maine Department of Education has identified the state's "persistently lowest achieving" schools and offered them the opportunity to take advantage of federal School Improvement grants.

• Otten also charges that "Maine is doing nothing to see to it that highly effective teachers and principals are given opportunities for additional compensation." That may have been mostly accurate on March 4, but since then, the Maine Legislature approved a bill meant to strike down the legal barrier preventing the linking of student achievement data and teacher evaluations. That bill set in motion a specially appointed panel charged with identifying teacher and principal evaluation models that incorporate student data. The panel's work could lead to some revamped compensation systems that allow teachers to be paid more for boosting students' academic progress.

• Otten's response (like Bowen's testimony) points to reforms Michigan and Massachusetts undertook to raise their Race to the Top standing. But, since Bowen testified before the Education Committee, only Delaware and Tennessee have claimed Race to the Top awards.

The fact is, not only did Les Otten and his staff plagiarize a questionnaire response, but they didn't bother to update the response to reflect the most recent data. Bowen delivered his testimony at the beginning of March. Augusta Insider published its questionnaire on April 27. A lot happened between those two dates.

By the way, this isn't the first time Otten was caught spreading a factual inaccuracy as part of the Augusta Insider questionnaire. As I pointed out last week, Otten's response to a funding-related question contained claims that were less than precise.

Kennebec Journal

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Re: Les Otten - Republican

Post by 911Dispatcher on Wed May 05, 2010 2:51 am

Just got to give kudos to my friend Matt Gagnon (PineTreePolitics) and Augusta Insider (one of the writers grew up in Rumford) for catching it. Both are great reads for Maine politics and can also be found on Twitter
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