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State Rep. Candidate Accused of Plagiarism

A. Keith Carreiro says portions of answers to questions he submitted to a newspaper were not his own words, but they "accurately reflect my positions."

The state Republican party is calling out Democratic state House candidate A. Keith Carreiro for using other people's words to create portions of his answers to a questionnaire from The Herald News, a newspaper in Fall River. Carreiro, who is running for the seat representing the 4th Bristol District (which includes Seekonk) against Republican incumbent Steven Howitt, admitted that he used passages written by a consultant in some of his answers and in another case used material that came from either the state Democratic party or "a union" that he said was supposed to be used by candidates in publications.

State Republican party spokesman Tim Buckley called Carreiro's actions "plagiarism." Carreiro's campaign manager, Andrew McLeod, said the situation "raises the question of what is considered plagiarism."

Carreiro wrote in an email to Patch and the Herald News on Saturday, "The answers I submitted to the questions accurately reflect my positions. I worked with a consultant in formulating my answer to a small portion of the total questionnaire. Let me be clear. My error was to submit the draft without rewriting those small portions in my own words. I regret the error and apologize."

Matt L. Barron, who operates MLB Research Associates in Williamsburg, Mass., told Patch on Sunday that he provided two passages on state government spending to Carreiro. One had also been given to 2010 2nd Berkshire District candidate Thomas Szczepaniak and another to Jim White, who was defeated last month in the Democratic primary for the state House's 2nd Franklin District seat. The statements are attributed to Szczepaniak and White in a news website article and a campaign website.

"He sent me the questionnaire, and he said, 'Will you look this over?'" Barron said. "I sent him the answers I had written for the other candidates. I sent them to him in draft form. I never saw the final submission before he sent it to the newspaper."

A third answer submitted by Carreiro to the Herald News includes a passage on health care that also appears in an op-ed in The Bangor Daily News. His campaign manager told Patch the passage actually came from a talking points document provided by either the state Democratic party or an unspecified union.

"Keith can't find the original, but he said candidates were encouraged to use it in publications," McLeod said.

Buckley, the state Republican spokesman, said this was more than an innocent mistake.

"Carreiro should stop blaming others, take responsibility for his plagiarism and apologize to the original authors and to the voters for attempting to deceive them," he wrote in an email to Patch.

Buckley added, "Mr. Carreiro's inability to come up with his own ideas and his decision to steal someone else's calls into question his judgment and his ability to hold any elected office. Serving the people takes integrity and the ability to think for yourself, two things it appears Keith Carreiro does not have."

The second statement was also submitted to the Herald News and appeared in a Friday article. Carreiro responded to this statement in his email to Patch and the Herald News, saying he has his own ideas.

"I am my own man and take exception to the notion that I am a puppet for anyone," he wrote. "I am an average citizen and this was the result of my commitment to study each and every piece of proposed legislation or policy and provide comprehensive answers to complicated questions."

Carreiro, who holds a doctorate in education and is an adjunct professor at Bristol Community College, connected this situation with what he tells his students to do.

"As a teacher, one of the most important understandings I try to impart to my students is the need to research and educate oneself about issues on which they may not have sufficient knowledge," he wrote. "This is what I do regularly, and as a matter of course, in my own life."

He added, "I am not afraid to go to those who have information and knowledge that I do not have and to strive for wisdom."

Beverly Della Grotta October 29, 2012 at 03:25 PM
BAD What are the consequences for plagiarism? Whatever happened to Maddie Myers, Seekonk superindendent of schools? I know resigned, but was any action taken?
Emcee of Seekonk October 29, 2012 at 04:51 PM
"What are the consequences for plagiarism?" Dishonor. If anyone cares about that anymore. As far a I know, plagiarism is not a crime until it crosses the lines of copyright laws. That usually occurs when someone tries to make money by using someone else's work (intellectual property). In the case of Myers and Carreiro, I think it's just a case of bad judgement.
Charles K. Hartman October 31, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Plagiarism in an academic setting involves using other people's ideas or materials without giving proper citation. This is why we have footnotes and bibliographies at the end of the work. In political announcements, advertisements and such no footnoting is done, no bibliographies submitted. So if ANY political ad does not have footnotes and bibliography attached, a charge of plagiarism might be leveled. However, we seldom see such accusations, unless it is for less than honorable reasons. Political ads, political statements from any candidate are not the same as class room work or academic research. If we wish to hold anyone to any standard, we must be consistent and make the standards appropriate for the context. If any political candidate was in a class I taught, they would be required to submit an annotated bibliography. Then we could easily see what they were reading, how they understood it and make the final test appropriate to challenge their recall.
Charles K. Hartman October 31, 2012 at 02:26 PM
In an academic institution, the consequence of plagiarism can range from a failing grade on the specific test or paper, academic probation, or dismissal from the institution. When professors or staff persons of academic institutions are caught in plagiarism, the consequence is usually a fracturing of the relationship between person and institution. Dishonor is a relative term these days and one that fades quickly from memory. The consequence of politicians misrepresenting themselves is too often inconsequential. We should go back and re-read Plato's Republic (Ch's 6-8) for his classic critique of democracy and the voting process. Plato put "democracy" as the fourth in line of a "good government" just above tyranny.
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