Rand Paul Is Not Alone: 5 More Politicians Accused of Plagiarism

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MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow recently accused Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) of plagiarizing part of a speech by lifting lines from the Wikipedia page of the sci-fi movie Gattaca.


While it might be the most recent allegation of plagiarism against a politician, it’s certainly not the first.

Here are five other politicians who have been accused of plagiarism. In the interest of transparency, the first three are noted in this Washington Post article, which is well worth a read.

1. Scott Brown

In 2011 then-Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) placed remarks on his website that had originally appeared in a speech by former Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina). He was quickly called out by a Democratic campaign group.

As the Post noted at the time, with the exception of an opening line about her parents, the message used the exact same words Dole spoke at her 2002 campaign kickoff.

A Brown spokesperson said Dole’s site had been used as a model and that text had inadvertently been transferred. The remarks no longer appear on the site.


2. Joe Biden

Before he was a politician, the vice president reportedly lifted lines from a law review article and used them in a paper he wrote as a first year law student at Syracuse University. He also later failed to attribute a quote to former British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock during a speech.


Biden ended his presidential campaign in late 1987, after the allegations surfaced, and as the New York Times noted, notified the state Supreme Court about the allegations involving his law review article shortly thereafter. The court later ruled that he had not violated any rules.

3. Barack Obama

When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran for president against the current commander-in-chief in 2008, her campaign accused Obama of plagiarizing part of a speech by Democratic Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.


As the Washington Post pointed out, both speeches used the same quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy in the same order.

Obama said the two had worked on the speech together but apologized and said he should have given Patrick credit.


4. Joe Carr

The Senate candidate from Tennessee reportedly plagiarized his responses to questions from a Tea Party group in September of this year. Carr reportedly used phrases lifted from The Heritage Foundation’s website.


He told the Tennessean, “When we were crafting our answers, I went to various sources — not just Heritage, but a number of resources — to do the research,” he said. “I certainly would never imply that my thoughts or ideas or views are exclusively my own, and I certainly didn’t represent them in the questionnaire that way.”

5. Vladimir Putin

Just as plagiarism knows no party bounds, it also crosses national borders. Brookings Institution fellows accused the Russian leader of plagiarizing large portions of his economics dissertation as a student during the mid-1990s by using text from a management text published by two University of Pittsburgh academics.


According to The Moscow Times, Putin’s spokesman dismissed the claims as “slanderous.”

We’d like to hear from you. Are there any particularly egregious plagiarism allegations in your area that you think deserve attention?


Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.