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."

Brian Hutchinson October 28, 2012 at 09:32 AM
Whats the big deal Romney has been doing this for years.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) October 28, 2012 at 09:44 AM
Let's stop with that comment. Please limit the discussion in this thread to the 4th Bristol District campaign. You have plenty of opportunities on Patch to discuss the presidential race.
paul October 28, 2012 at 10:03 AM
What's the big deal? Every politician on every level says the same thing, vote for me and I will save the American dream for you. Vote for me, I will bring jobs to the area. They are all like a broken record and they all are saying the things that we want, but will never get from them. In the end you can only vote and hope.
Emcee of Seekonk October 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Even though I didn't intend to vote for Mr. Carreiro because of a choice of voting straight Republican this election, the news of his plagiarism is disappointing. Why would a professor need to resort to using someone else's words when paraphrasing is so much easier? Or how difficult is it to use quotes and give credit to a source? Not sure if this is enough to damage the professor's political career going forward, but it was a foolish mistake on his part. For those of us living in Seekonk, this is the second issue regarding plagiarism within the education community within the year. Our Superintendant of Schools walked off the job because of just such accusation... or so it would seem.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) October 28, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I have added some information to this article. I spoke with the consultant who provided the material to Carreiro.
deb of see-attleboro October 28, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Tsk! Tsk! Tsk. Shame on him! An educator, of all people. One who claimed in an earlier blog he would provide independent leadership for the district. Why should a small potatoes politician who is highly educated need to invest in a consultant? Or maybe it isn't his choice? Did he have to get approval from Democratic leadership for material he posted here on Patch? Did he even write these blogs himself? We need fewer lawyers and professors in government. Two big players in the political class.
Charles K. Hartman October 29, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I have met with Dr. Carreiro and discussed at length his vision for our district and his experiences that have equipped him to bring positive change to the people of our communities. I also teach at the university level and know the struggle that attends honest research. There are very few statements made by any politician that are original. Most speeches are ghost written without clear citation. In the highly toxic context of our current political campaigns, such accusations as these can be easily made and could point to the "fog" of campaigning more than to any less than admirable intention. Dr. Carreiro is a good man, hardworking and willing to engage honest debate. Bringing a real educator, a man who deals daily with the hopes, dreams and frustration of our young people, to the legislature, I hope, will bring insight and a high value to the "commonwealth," that is the common good for all citizens of the district. I trust Keith a lot more than anyone who makes shallow accusations. I will continue to support his candidacy.
Emcee of Seekonk October 29, 2012 at 01:45 PM
"I trust Keith a lot more than anyone who makes shallow accusations." I believe if he hadn't been a professor, plagiarism would have been a non issue. Polliticians steal one another's ideas and 'bon mots' constantly. However, certain professions are held to a higher standard than others and education is one of them. It's nice that you would write a piece in his defense.
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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