The plagiarism controversy plaguing Scott McInnis is only getting uglier, and his awkward attempts to make it go away are doing nothing thus far to tidy up the mess.
The problem is exacerbated by both substance and style. McInnis's official statement on the issue -- read it below -- doesn't come close to filling the sincerity gap that's in evidence throughout the TV mea culpas he's offered to date.
McInnis is refusing to talk to the Denver Post, as the paper made clear this morning. The paper's latest McInnis salvo argues that the plagiarism of Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs's writings for the candidate's "Musings on Water" (which netted him $300,000 from the Hasan Family Foundation) wasn't a one-time thing, citing a column and speech that appear to have lifted material directly from a Washington Post op-ed without attribution.
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However, McInnis did chat with Channel 7, which ran a plagiarism story that didn't cite the Post. McInnis's excuses to John Ferrugia were clumsy and weak, and the gubernatorial hopeful didn't come across much better in conversations with staffers at Channel 4 and Channel 9.
In the latter piece, McInnis foolishly declared the situation a "non-issue" -- an example of his hamhandedness when dealing with crises. His meltdown on KHOW last summer may not typify his press performances, but he tends to come across as shifty and evasive when challenged. He simply lacks the charm and ease that's so necessary when navigating today's media environment, and that will make it even more difficult for him to survive his current gaffe-a-palooza.
As for his official statement about the Hobbs plagiarism, it implies that the buck stops with him, but his finger-pointing at a research assistant, Rolly Fischer, definitely waters the whole thing down. Judge for yourself below:
McInnis Statement on Water Article Controversy
In 2005, I accepted a water fellowship with the non-profit Hasan Family Foundation. Part of this fellowship entailed compiling a series of articles designed to promote public understanding of historical water issues in Colorado.
In order to complete this project, I retained a renowned Colorado water expert. That expert, Rolly Fischer, spent nearly three decades with the Colorado River Water Conservation District , and is well-respected across the state. During our collaboration, he provided research for the articles.
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.
It's unacceptable, it's inexcusable, but it was also unintentional.
I made a mistake, and should have been more vigilant in my review of research material Rolly submitted.
I've reached out to Justice Hobbs and the Hasan Family Foundation, and hope to meet with both in the not too distant future.
We all share a deep commitment to Colorado's future. In the coming days, I hope we can put this matter behind us, and focus on solving the many problems that face our state.