Glenwood water engineer says little about McInnis research paper
July 14, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Long-time local resident Rolly Fischer on Tuesday declined to say much about his involvement in a research paper that gubernatorial candidate and former Congressman Scott McInnis wrote to meet a fellowship deadline.”Scott’s responsible for it,” stated Fisher, an engineer who worked for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, when asked whether he was responsible for articles attributed to McInnis.Beyond that, Fisher said flatly, “I have nothing to say.”McInnis, a Glenwood Springs native who is seeking the Republican nomination to become Colorado’s next governor, was awarded a fellowship in 2005 and 2006 by the Hasan Family Foundation, a Pueblo-based organization, shortly after he retired from Congress.The fellowship included a payment of $300,000 for speaking engagements and to research and write a monthly article on state water issues, according to a story in the July 13 Denver Post.But shortly after getting the fellowship, according to the Post, McInnis got a job with the Denver law firm of Hogan & Hartson, leaving him pressed for time to finish the fellowship articles.At some point, according to the Post, Fisher got involved, although his name does not appear anywhere in the documents.Numerous passages in the articles, which reportedly totaled more than 150 pages in 23 installments, appeared to either exactly replicate or closely mirror passages from a 1984 essay by now-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs.The Denver Post reported that a McInnis aide, Sean Duffy, told a reporter that Fischer “was the one who handled the portions that used Hobbs’ work without attribution.”Duffy, who could not be reached for comment, also is quoted as saying the articles were not intended for publication without editing.McInnis was quoted by 9NEWS as calling the charges “a nonissue.”The McInnis campaign late Tuesday issued a statement about the furor, in which the candidate acknowledged hiring Fischer to help with the articles and admitting that “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. I should have been more vigilant in my review of research material Rolly submitted.”In a statement from the Hasan Family Foundation, chairwoman Seeme Hasan said of the accusations against McInnis, “I am shocked, angry and disappointed. Any work related to the fellowship that Mr. McInnis submitted was always represented as final. At no time, whatsoever, did Mr. McInnis communicate that any of the work were ‘rough drafts.’ Any representation that they were submitted to the Foundation as ‘rough drafts’ is absolutely incorrect.”Hasan also declared that the foundation was not told McInnis was relying on research other than his own.”The Hasan Family Foundation takes the issue of plagiarism extremely seriously,” the statement concludes. “All [McInnis’] work was represented to be original and final. We will conduct an independent, internal investigation and if the allegations are proven to be true, we will demand Mr. McInnis return all monies paid to him by the Foundation.”A spokesperson for the Colorado Bar Association said there are no rules that address accusations of plagiarism against attorneys, although if an attorney were convicted of the crime of plagiarism the Bar might take some disciplinary action.But Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, said that if true, the charges could threaten McInnis’ license to practice law in the state.According to an article in the Colorado Statesman, a nonpartisan political organ, Toro said that such a finding would “raise serious questions about McInnis’ compliance with the ethics rules that apply to all Colorado lawyers.”On Tuesday, Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll called for McInnis, a former six-term congressman, to withdraw from the gubernatorial race.”Coloradans deserve better than Scott McInnis,” said Carroll, a Democrat.In response to Carroll’s statement, Colorado Republican Party chair Dick Wadhams issued his own broadside, saying, “I know it must be difficult for Terrance Carroll to understand how irrelevant he is as a lame duck state representative. But while he’s on his moral high horse today, maybe he can tell Coloradans if Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was lying in Copenhagen when he attacked skeptics of global warming or was Hickenlooper lying to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association when he said he himself was a skeptic of global warming.”McInnis, in his statement, said of the matter, “It’s unacceptable, it’s inexcusable. … In the coming days, I hope we can put this matter behind us and focus on solving the many problems that face our state.”McInnis will face fellow Republican Dan Maes in the Aug. 10 primary to see who will face Hickenlooper in November.Gov. Bill Ritter is not running for re-election after one term.