Tyler Jones, spokesman for SC House Democrats, brings this to my attention:
BREAKING NEWS!GOP Legislator Busted for Plagiarism
On Monday, Berkeley County GOP Rep. Samuel Rivers, a Tea Party activist and pastor, published an op-ed in the Post and Courier that discussed new EPA proposals in Congress.The only problem?
He didn’t write it.Investigative journalist Corey Hutchins published a story this week with the Columbia Journalism Review detailing the incident.According to Hutchins’ story, Rep. Rivers published an op-ed in the Charleston Post & Courier on Monday, July 21st under the byline of Samuel Rivers Jr.Hutchins quickly found this exact same editorial was recently published out west by a cattleman’s association group.—————————— —–Compare Op-Eds:—————————– ——How similar are the op-eds? Have a look for yourself:Excerpts from the Cattlemen’s Association Op-Ed:“In 1972, the CWA created a regulatory permitting system to control discharges (discharge includes dirt, manure, fertilizer, litter, pesticides, etc.) into “navigable waters.” The term “navigable waters” is defined in the CWA as “waters of the United States” and nothing more. This absurdly vague definition has provided the implementing federal agencies – namely EPA and the Corps – with the loophole they needed to systematically gain more and more regulatory authority over smaller and less significant “bodies of water” – a term used loosely – over the past 40 years.”“How did they do it? Through vague terms such as “neighboring,” ill-defined terms like “floodplain,” and expansive definitions such as “tributary.” Not to mention the agencies extremely broad definition of what is considered a “significant nexus” between isolated waters and downstream waters. The agencies also leave most of these important key terms up to the “best professional judgment” of the federal regulator. These legal terms give the regulatory agencies the loopholes they need to find your pond, puddle or ditch to be a “water of the U.S.” and leave landowners with more confusion than ever before.”Excerpts from Rep. River’s Op-Ed:“When passed in 1972, the Clean Water Act created a regulatory permitting system to control discharges (including dirt, manure, fertilizer, litter, pesticides, etc.) into “navigable waters.” The term “navigable waters” is defined in the CWA as “waters of the United States,” and nothing more. This vague definition has provided the implementing federal agencies (namely EPA and the Corps) with the loophole they needed to systematically gain more regulatory authority over smaller and less significant “bodies of water” over the past 40 years.”
“This is done through vague terms such as “neighboring,” ill-defined terms like “floodplain,” and expansive definitions such as “tributary,” not to mention the agencies’ extremely broad definition of what is considered a “significant nexus” between isolated waters and downstream waters. The agencies also leave most of these important key terms up to the “best professional judgment” of the federal regulator. These legal terms give the regulatory agencies the loopholes they need to find your pond, puddle or ditch to be a “water of the U.S.,” leaving landowners with more confusion than ever before.”
As you can see, almost all of Rep. Rivers’ op-ed was lifted verbatim from the Cattlemen’s Association op-ed.Confronted with the facts, Rep. Rivers doubled down telling Hutchins, “Those are my words with the information that was provided to me, let me put it like that.”It’s bad enough to plagiarize someone else’s work – present it as your own – and publish it in the state’s largest newspaper. But it’s even worse to lie about it after you’ve been caught.The voters of District 15 deserve a representative who will be open and honest with them about the issues confronting our state. Not someone who will copy and paste someone else’s work and claim it as their own. The voters deserve an apology and an explanation from Rep. Samuel Rivers.Sincerely,Tyler JonesPolitical DirectorSC House DemocratsP.S. Don’t forget Rep. Rivers has a Democratic opponent, Marian Redish, in the November elections. You can make a contribution to her campaign by visiting her website – www.MarianForHouse.com.
Tyler had asked me for my thoughts on this earlier, and so had Corey Hutchins. Both wanted to know what I would have done had such a piece run in The State when I was EPE. Corey just wanted to know what I thought off-the-record, but you know me, I don’t mind sharing what I told him…
The truth is that first, I don’t know exactly what I would have done. That sounds like a cop-out, but it’s the opposite of a cop-out — it’s me taking the question seriously.
And one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll do in a given situation until you’re in it, and dealing with the very specific facts and dynamics of the situation, and consulting with your colleagues about it. (While I have never been shy about making unilateral decisions, I learned to my greater humility that as smart as I may have thought I was, I was always smarter after a serious discussion with my fellow members of the editorial board. And sometimes I made a different decision as a result.)
If you hold a gun to my head, I’ll speculate that under such circumstances I MIGHT write a column about it, as it’s an interesting situation that sheds light on the piece that we ran, and also into the editorial process, which I always liked to do….
If I didn’t want to spend a column (a decidedly finite resource) on it, I might do a blog post about it. But then I would feel some obligation to let print-only readers know the controversy existed. Maybe a brief blurb leading people to the blog post.
But that’s first-blush. As I say, in the actual situation I might do something different…
So I don’t like to second-guess what another editor did or didn’t do. Speaking of which, it appears that what Charleston did do was take the piece off their website. An update from Corey:
UPDATE, 7/25: Rivers’ op-ed appears to have been pulled by The Post and Courier. The link to the commentary now goes to a page that reads, “Error 404 – This page is either no longer available or has been relocated.” A search for phrases from the op-ed on the paper’s site yielded no results.
Charles Rowe, the editorial page editor, didn’t have much to say when asked earlier today if the paper had any update on the situation. Rowe did not immediately respond to another inquiry this afternoon, after the op-ed disappeared.
Rivers, however, hasn’t been quiet. He has repeatedly posted to his Twitter account a letter that indicates he had permission—from a lobbyist—to use industry-written material in his op-ed. …