Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What's with the serial plagiarism among Oregon conservatives?

Over at the O's political blog, Harry Esteve noted a curious coincidence:

Conservative commentator Larry Huss is getting some good mileage from a column that touts Republican Ron Saxton’s ability to stand up to public employee unions.

The Medford Mail Tribune, which regularly runs Huss’ material, ran the piece in its July 9 edition. Two weeks later, The (Bend) Bulletin ran the identical column, only with a different byline — Dennis Tooley, listed as a retired government affairs manager from Redmond.

In between, the column was picked up by The Oregon Catalyst, a conservative blog run by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon. This time it ran under the anonymous byline “Guest Columnist.”

What gives?

Tooley, sounding chagrined, told The Oregonian a friend e-mailed him the column, with no byline attached, and asked if he could get it into the Bulletin. Tooley said he liked the piece, agreed with it, and submitted it to the Bulletin’s opinion page under his name.

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Tooley said. He said he didn’t know the piece already had run in the Medford paper. He said his friend “just wanted someone local” to help ensure it was published in Bend.

Jason Williams, executive director of the taxpayers association, said he ran the column without a byline because Huss had already had another piece published that week in the Oregon Catalyst blog. “I didn’t want to make it seem like the Larry Huss blog,” he said, so he removed the byline.

As for Huss, he shrugs it off.

“It didn’t bother me at all,” he said of his work running with someone else’s name attached. “The only thing for me that’s important is to get the discussion out there.”

This entire episode might seem like an honest mistake among like-minded individuals. But is it really?

Last April TJ made mention of a very similar type of "mix-up".

I'm not much of a tinfoil hat conspiracist, but it seems awfully convenient that these guys are able to get their stuff printed in various local papers under different bylines.

Especially if local papers are less likely to print material from outside the community--slapping a local name and location on a piece would definitely make it more printable.