Paul's office blames staffers after string of plagiarism charges

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Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) office on Tuesday said it is implementing a new approval process for the Kentucky Republican’s speeches and writing in the wake of plagiarism charges, adding that "supporting facts and anecdotes" from staffers were not "clearly sourced or vetted properly."

In an interview with The New York Times later in the day, Paul said he is unsure if the scandal will affect a potential presidential bid in 2016.

From now on, Paul said his writings would resemble academic papers “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.” Despite the errors, he said no staff would be fired over the controversy. 

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“We’re going to try to put out footnotes,” he told The Times. “We’re going to have them available. If people want to request the footnoted version, we’re going to have it available.”

Buzzfeed and others have found numerous instances in which sections of Paul’s speeches and books resembled word for word other articles without quoting them.

Paul partly blamed the errors on his hectic schedule, saying sometimes he has to read and approve the text of articles or speeches in 20 minutes. 

“We write something every week for The Washington Times, and I literally am riding around in a car in between things trying to figure out if I can approve it,” He said. 

Paul admitted that his office is likely taking on more than it should. 

“We need to get stuff earlier, but it’s hard, Paul said. 

Paul’s senior adviser, Doug Stafford, issued a statement saying citation for speeches will now be available upon request from reporters, and that the office will be more rigorous in its vetting.

“Adherence to a new approval process implemented by Sen. Paul will ensure proper citation and accountability in all collaborative works going forward,” Stafford said in a statement.

“Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used,” Stafford said. “Going forward, footnotes will be available on request. There have also been occasions where quotations or typesetting indentations have been left out through errors in our approval process. From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete." 

Stafford said a large number of staffers "provide supporting facts and anecdotes – some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly."

The new policy comes after Buzzfeed on Monday found portions of an op-ed written by Paul in September resembled lines from a report a week earlier in The Week about minimum drug sentencing.

Paul, a potential contender for president in 2016, issued a similar admission Monday night on Fox News, saying portions of his 2013 book Government Bullies improperly cited a report by The Heritage Foundation and another conservative think thank.

But on Monday night he continued to maintain the allegations have been conflated.

“I do make mistakes,” Paul said. “In the book, in fact, we made a mistake. It should have been blocked off or indented to show that it was a quotation. It was footnoted at the end. We didn't try to pass off anything as our own. And they are coming up with absurdities.”

It is a marked pullback from the weekend, when he blamed "hacks and haters" for the changes. Over the weekend, he said he almost wanted to challenge his accusers to a duel.

“I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I have never intentionally done so. And like I say, if, you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can't do that, because I can't hold office in Kentucky then.”

The controversy began brewing last week when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow first pointed out that a few lines from a speech Paul gave, in which he summarized the movie “Gattaca,” resembled the movie’s Wikipedia entry. 

Updated at 2:42 p.m.