Scott McInnis: Too lazy to do his own plagiarism?

By any objective standard, the 150 error-ridden pages of "Musings on Water" churned out by Scott McInnis aren't worth the $300,000 the Hasan Family Foundation paid for them.

Now we know, thanks to this morning's front-page story in the Denver Post, that they're not even the gubernatorial candidate's own work. A substantial section of the musings has been lifted, sometimes word for word, from a 1984 essay by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs.

The section in question has to do with the history of the Green Mountain Reservoir -- practically the only portion of the rambling, shapeless work that reveals any sort of serious research, as I pointed out in "Scott McInnis: The Waterlogged Years," our three-part blog series on the candidate's $2,000-a-page gig.

While most of the stuff McInnis submitted to the foundation is poorly written, amateurish and inept, the Green Mountain "chapters" (I use the term loosely) are much richer in anecdotal history: "He seems to have actually done some archival research here, or at least read some articles somewhere that referenced an archive or two," I noted.

As it turns out, he didn't. He stole the stuff from Justice Hobbs. Actually, he had someone else cannibalize Hobbs' work, demonstrating a certain flair for delegating. McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy is now in full damage-control mode, insisting that the "drafts" McInnis submitted were expected to go through some editing and blaming the plagiarism on an assistant McInnis hired for the project, an engineer familiar with Western Slope water controversies.

It's a familiar but dismal rejoinder: When busted doing something sleazy, blame your underlings. Given that McInnis was paid three hundred grand for his "original work," it's bad enough (but hardly shocking) that he subcontracted the job to someone else. But just how lazy do you have to be to let someone else do your plagiarizing for you?

The inescapable fact here is that, whether McInnis was aware of the borrowing from Hobbs' work or not, he signed off on the project as his own. He told the Hasans that his articles had been "carefully documented" (though there are no footnotes, bibliography or other mechanism of attribution), proofed (though riddled with typos and grammatical errors), and were in their final form (not drafts). And that they were his work.

He lied.

Put this embarrassing bit of chicanery together with the campaign finance violations of Dan Maes , who has reimbursed himself wildly inflated sums for "mileage," and you have a major meltdown among the GOP hopefuls for governor. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper hasn't exactly been running the most inspiring campaign himself, but this year, it may take nothing more than being passably ethical to stumble into the state's highest office.

May the least shady candidate win.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast