Colorado GOP Gubernatorial Campaign Stumbles Over Plagiarism Accusations

ABC News' Clayton Sandell reports:

DENVER -- One candidate’s run for governor in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado has hit rocky ground after reports surfaced alleging he is a repeat plagiarist.

The story began unfolding Monday. The Denver Post revealed that a series of articles Republican Scott McInnis wrote for the Hasan Family Foundation in 2005 and 2006 contained long passages that copied nearly verbatim from an article written two decades earlier by Gregory Hobbs, who now serves as a Colorado Supreme Court Justice.

McInnis — a former congressman — was paid $300,000 for the articles about water and land policy by the foundation, which now says it wants that money returned.

After the story broke, McInnis issued this statement , which blamed a research assistant for the plagiarism: "Regrettably, it has now become clear that much of the research was in fact taken from other source material without proper attribution. While I do not believe that this was a deliberate act, it was a serious mistake."

McInnis — no longer speaking to the Denver Post — appeared on several local TV stations Tuesday, including KUSA-TV, where he called the situation a "non-issue."

But it got worse for McInnis Wednesday with three new developments:

First, there were reports that a 1995 speech he gave on the floor of the House of Representatives included a line almost identical to one that appeared in an earlier Washington Post op-ed column.

Also Wednesday, the Denver Post published an editorial calling for McInnis to drop out of the race, citing what the paper called the candidate’s “inexcusable intellectual thievery.”

Finally, the watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch called on the state Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel to investigate whether McInnis — an attorney with the law firm of Hogan Lovells — violated ethics rules by failing to supervise a “non-lawyer assistant” who might have engaged in dishonest conduct.

The McInnis controversy has become topic No. 1 on Colorado political blogs, local TV newscasts and talk radio.

On Wednesday afternoon, on KHOW radio’s Caplis and Silverman show, co-host Dan Caplis said McInnis needs to step aside in order to help minimize the damage to the conservative movement in Colorado.

“This is about the future of our state,” Caplis said. “Why in the world would we even consider sending a candidate out there with this kind of baggage when the stakes are so high?”

Calls to the McInnis campaign were not returned to ABC News.

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