NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is instituting new approval and citation rules for his staffers and researchers in the face of accusations that he plagiarized material from several sources for speeches, a newspaper column and his book.
Paul initially tried to downplay revelations first reported by MSNBC that he had used material from Wikipedia — without attributing it — to describe the plot of a sci-fi movie in a recent speech. Since then, more accusations have surfaced about his writings having similar or identical language to other publications without attribution.
In an email Wednesday, Paul adviser Doug Stafford said that the senator “relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes — some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly.”
Stafford said Paul’s office now plans to make footnotes available on request, and will seek to make attribution to other people’s work more complete.
Paul, who initially said he wished he could challenge his critics to a duel for questioning his honesty, remained defiant about the sudden attention to the provenance of his public pronouncements.
“What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers,” Paul, who is considering a presidential bid in 2016, told The New York Times.
While mistakes had been made, he said, they had “never been intentional.”
The Washington Times launched an internal review of columns and op-eds written by the senator after the website BuzzFeed reported that Paul had included word-for-word passages from The Week magazine in a recent piece about mandatory prison sentencing.
The paper published a correction to the Sept. 20 column and editor John Solomon said in the paper’s story about the decision that the “we expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material.”
Dan Stewart, who wrote the article for The Week, said he wasn’t offended by the material being lifted for the Paul column.
“Paul’s error, in this instance at least, seems to be one of laziness rather than malfeasance,” Stewart said in an article posted on The Week’s website Wednesday. “If he or his ghostwriter had simply used the details of what I’d written, rather than the sentence structure and wording, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.”