[lg policy] Joe Biden’s campaign acknowledges lifting language from other groups for its policy plans Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden tours the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative in Plymouth, New Hampshire on Tuesday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters) By Matt Viser , Dino Grandoni and Jeff Stein June 4 at 8:22 PM Joe Biden’s presidential campaign lifted language without credit, at times word for word, when crafting its education and climate plans, incidents the campaign acknowledged and said were inadvertent. The incidents appeared to be staff errors when detailing Biden’s policies, and they underscored how hastily his campaign was attempting to put out specific proposals. But the issue was a particularly sensitive one for Biden, whose 1988 campaign was derailed after he plagiarized, in speeches, rhetoric used by British politician Neil Kinnock. Reports also emerged that he used lines from two Democrats, Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, without

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Jun 5 10:50:18 EDT 2019


Joe Biden’s campaign acknowledges lifting language from other groups for
its policy plans

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden tours
the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative in Plymouth, New Hampshire on
Tuesday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
By Matt Viser <https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/matt-viser/> ,
Dino Grandoni <https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/dino-grandoni/> and
Jeff Stein <https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/jeff-stein/>
June 4 at 8:22 PM

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign lifted language without credit, at times
word for word, when crafting its education and climate plans, incidents the
campaign acknowledged and said were inadvertent.

The incidents appeared to be staff errors when detailing Biden’s policies,
and they underscored how hastily his campaign was attempting to put out
specific proposals. But the issue was a particularly sensitive one for
Biden, whose 1988 campaign was derailed after he plagiarized, in speeches,
rhetoric used by British politician Neil Kinnock.

Reports also emerged that he used lines from two Democrats, Robert F.
Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, without attribution. Biden had also been
cited for plagiarism in a paper during law school, an error he blamed on
not knowing how to properly cite sources. He quit the campaign shortly
after the flurry of uses was reported.

Biden’s campaign said Tuesday that it would update his policy plans online
to properly attribute the sources of information, which in the case of his
environmental plan included a coal industry entity. But the controversy
nonetheless threatened to overshadow the policies themselves — and, for
some liberal advocates, it was a sign that the policies were not taken
seriously by the campaign or the candidate.

“Biden appears to be taking ideas from other people and not giving credit.
You can’t do that,” said Leah Stokes, a political scientist at the
University of California Santa Barbara who specializes in climate issues.
“It speaks of pulling an all-nighter and reading off of your friend’s
essay.”

Other campaigns have used unattributed language similar to that crafted by
primary sources. A policy plan by Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) includes
a line that “black women are three to four times more likely to die from
­pregnancy-related causes than white women.” That is identical to a
reference in an American Heart Association document, which attributes the
statistic to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s a
statistic,” campaign spokesman Ian Sams said when asked for comment.

In the case of his education policy, Biden used a sentence word for word
from an education policy publication from the group XQ Institute.

“Students who participate in high-quality career and technical education
are more likely to graduate, earn industry credentials, enroll in college,
and have higher rates of employment and higher earnings,” the sentence read.

The institute did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and the
Biden campaign declined a request for comment on the education policy passage.
After The Washington Post contacted the campaign about the sentence, it
added a link to the institute’s publication.

The use of other groups’ words in Biden’s environmental plan became known
after Josh Nelson of the progressive group CREDO noticed Tuesday that much
of its language about carbon capture sequestration appeared to resemble
talking points from pro-industry groups.

Nelson found the phrases were a near-identical match with wording used by
the Carbon Capture Coalition, whose members include Shell, Peabody Energy
and Arch Coal.

Biden’s climate plan calls for making carbon capture, use and storage a
“widely available, cost-effective, and rapidly scalable solution to reduce
carbon emissions to meet mid-century climate goals.”

On its website, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’s Carbon
Capture Coalition says “its goal is to make carbon capture, use and storage
(CCUS) a widely available, cost-effective, and rapidly scalable solution to
reduce carbon emissions to meet mid-century climate goals.”

“It is certainly not a good sign for a Democratic presidential candidate to
be copying things verbatim from a group associated with the coal industry,”
Nelson said.

Alec Gerlach, communications director for the Center for Climate and Energy
Solutions, said it does not coordinate with campaigns. But he added “carbon
capture should be an essential element in any comprehensive strategy to
eliminate carbon emissions.”

At least one environmental group didn’t mind seeing its ideas influence
White House hopefuls.

In its climate plan, for example, the Biden camp copied a factoid — the
“average American sewage pipe is 33 years old, with many pipes dating back
50 or even 100 years” — verbatim from the website for American Rivers in a
section about water infrastructure.

But Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for the American Rivers clean-water advocacy
group, said her organization was “absolutely happy to see anybody come to
our website.”

“Our information is available to all campaigns,” she added.

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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