MADISON (WKOW) — The Department of Public Instruction confirmed all plagiarized sections of previous and most recent budget submissions were correct by Monday night. The controversy over the plagiarized budgets is the latest twist in a tightly-contested race.
The most-recent Marquette University poll shows Democrat Tony Evers and Governor Scott Walker are nearly tied with two weeks before election day.
On Friday, just hours before their first debate, Politico reported DPI staff submitted department budgets that were plagiarized. According to the report, the budget included 15 paragraphs from a blog post and others from a Wikipedia entry that were not attributed. Evers acknowledged the mistake during the debate saying, they ‘dropped a few citations,’ but also said the budgets were corrected. A department spokesperson confirmed on Monday the entries were corrected.
“All of the identified passages have been fixed and our 2019-2021 budget has been resubmitted to DOA,” Thomas McCarthy, DPI’s Communications Director wrote in an email sent Tuesday morning.
On Friday, and during a campaign event in Milwaukee on Saturday, Evers said his staff was notified and ‘fixed it.’
“We talked to the people involved and they fixed it,” said Evers during the debate. “The last thing I need is to have Scott Walker lecturing me about the issue of plagiarism as he takes budget items directly from national organizations and passes them into law with barely changing a word.”
Evers is referring to the conservative think tank American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
“He takes budgets from national organizations and high dollar sponsors and passes them into law without barely changing a word,” said Evers.
Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin Mark Morgan said the purpose of ALEC is to discuss reforms and eventually have lawmakers adopt them. Morgan said Evers is distracting voters by not taking ownership about plagiarizing his own budgets.
“Evers is still continuing to dismiss it that it’s not a big issue and is not holding anyone accountable, including himself,” said Morgan. “I think that’s reckless and borderline disqualifying.”
Over the weekend, the Republican Party released more documents showing three more occasions in which Evers submitted budget requests from 2012 that took portions from other sources without attribution. Evers’ campaign did not disagree and admitted the other passages were borrowed without credit. This incident was not as extreme as sections of Evers’ budget material sent last month that was also not attributed to sources.
The Democrat said no one from his department will be disciplined for plagiarism but McCarthy said each employee will undergo mandatory training on how to make proper references.
Evers is also fighting back with criticism by calling out Governor Walker after three of his former cabinet secretaries signed a letter endorsing the Democrat. In the letter, cabinet members said Walker “covered things up and put his future ahead of others.”
“Scott Walker is grasping at straws because he can’t defend his record of cutting $800 million from Wisconsin’s public schools, undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions and signing special interest legislation into law,” said Sam Lau, Evers campaign spokesperson. “There’s a reason four of his former cabinet secretaries have spoken publicly against him–he will always do what’s best for himself instead of what’s best for Wisconsin.”
Both candidates are set to debate one more time before the election on October 26. WTMJ-TV will host the debate.
27 News will stream the debate on our Facebook page and air it live on Channel 27.2.