Christine Stuart file photo
Tom Foley (Christine Stuart file photo)

In an academic setting, Tom Foley would be “flunked” for lifting portions of his urban policy agenda without attributing his sources, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday of his Republican opponent.

The Connecticut Democratic Party emailed reporters Wednesday to highlight the passages in Foley’s urban strategy plan, which appear to be copied verbatim from sources including the Connecticut Policy Institute, a think tank founded by Foley. Other sections are copied from articles published by the Heartland Institute and the Pelican Post, two conservative think tanks.

“Lots of other people get in trouble for that,” Malloy told reporters Thursday at a stop in Enfield. In school, Foley would “get an F. He’d be flunked. He wouldn’t get a grade for it.”

Asked how serious a problem plagiarism is in a public policy arena, Malloy told a reporter “you decide. If you decide it’s not important by not covering it, then I’m just going to take all your ideas and claim them to be my own.”

Hugh McQuaid photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Hugh McQuaid photo)

Plagiarism in politics is not a new phenomenon. In a phone interview, a University of Connecticut political science professor, said people should always attribute their sources, but candidates sometimes neglect to without suffering major consequences.

“If he didn’t [attribute his sources], within the political world, it’s not the most major thing at all. Politicians often read speeches written by someone else,” UConn Professor Ron Schurin said.

Rich Hanley, an associate professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University , echoed Schurin’s comments and added that he didn’t think the criticism will have traction with the public.

However, plagiarism occasionally has political consequences. Last month, the Washington Post published a blog on the “biggest plagiarism offenders of the 2014 election.” Montana Democrat, U.S. Sen. John Walsh, topped the list. He ended his re-election campaign after the New York Times reported that he copied portions of a paper as a student at the U.S. Army War College.

Others on the list were faulted for including lifted passages in their policy plans, websites, and speeches.

In 2012, then U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon was accused of lifting quotes about the Keystone XL Pipeline from the TransCanada website. McMahon’s office defended the use of the language in the editorial and said she wasn’t alone in restating TransCanada’s numbers.

Foley’s campaign also defended the use of the statements from the three think tanks.

“The urban policy agenda released yesterday is largely drawn from the work of the Connecticut Policy institute, a think tank Tom Foley founded and he has said from the start would be the foundation of his urban policy agenda,” Chris Cooper, a spokesman for the Foley campaign, said. “Borrowing policy ideas from states that have successfully road tested new policy initiatives is not plagiarism – it’s smart.”