Plagiarism Question Arises in Senate Race | NBC Connecticut

Plagiarism Question Arises in Senate Race

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    The wording in a portion of Simmons' plan on tort reform is quite similar to language in a talking points section on small businesses liability reform on the National Federation of Independent Business' Web site, the Associated Press reports.

    U.S. Senate candidate Rob Simmons is getting some flack about talking points of his Plan for Prosperity that was much like wording in a business advocacy group, and his campaign says the fault lies with a young staffer who did not attribute the words.

    The wording in a portion of Simmons' plan on tort reform is quite similar to language in a talking points section on small businesses liability reform on the National Federation of Independent Business' Web site, the Associated Press reports.

    The plan was pulled from Simmons' campaign Web site on Wednesday, moments after The Associated Press asked about the similarities.

    Jim Barnett, Simmons’ campaign manager, blamed the error on a young staffer who borrowed the words without attribution.

    The part of the plan in question describes the legal idea of "joint-and-several liability," meaning everyone named in a lawsuit can be held equally responsible, even if some are more to blame than others.

    "Congress should abolish joint-and-several liability, and instead institute a fairer, 'fault-based' system, that holds defendants responsible based on their degree of fault," Simmons' plan states.

    The National Federation of Independent Business talking points state: "NFIB is urging Congress to abolish the joint-and-several liability, and instead institute a fairer, 'fault-based' system, so that defendants are only held liable for their specific degree of fault."

    Another passage from Simmons' plan states, "Punitive damages, unlike 'economic damages' which cover lost income and 'non-economic damages' which cover pain and suffering, are not intended to compensate victims."

    NFIB’s plan: "Punitive damages are not intended to financially compensate victims -- those damages are covered in 'economic damages' and 'non-economic damages."'

     Barnett said that Simmons takes the issue seriously, that the unnamed staffer has been admonished and the "parts of the plan in question will be immediately reworded."

     Andrew Markowski, the Connecticut chapter president of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the organization is pleased when politicians use the group's ideas.

    "It's in the public domain and what anyone does with those ideas is outside of our control, but we're certainly happy to see any candidate or politician grab onto those ideas and run with them if they're going to help small business," he said.

    Simmons, a Republican candidate, is in a high-profile and heated race, along with former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon and Fairfield County money manager Peter Schiff is also seeking the nomination.

    McMahon's campaign seized on the mistake.

    "He's running against a businesswoman with real world business experience," said Ed Patru, a spokesman for McMahon. "He's already at a decided disadvantage on the issue of job creation. Getting caught plagiarizing his job plan doesn't help to build credibility on the issue or build confidence."

    Patru said it was "political talk" for the Simmons campaign to say the words were borrowed from the Web site.