Colorado Gubernatorial Candidate Promises to Repay $300K for Plagiarized Essays

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis said Friday he will fully repay the $300,000 he received for plagiarized essays about water rights, and he said it should bring the issue to a close.

The offer for repayment came after The Hasan Family Foundation board said it wants its money back, noting that McInnis has admitted some of the work wasn't his own.

The board also said McInnis didn't do the work he was obligated to do as a senior fellow of the foundation.

The work performed by McInnis "was only a fraction of the work he was obligated to perform under the terms of his fellowship," foundation chairwoman Seeme Hasan said.

"Of the little work that he did, he has admitted it was neither fully completed by him, nor fully original," Hasan said, adding that the issue is now closed and there is no need for further investigation.

McInnis agreed.

"I have said since this matter was brought to my attention that the articles provided as part of the Hasan Family Foundation fellowship were faulty. I explained how this problem arose, and I accepted responsibility. I will be in contact with the Hasan family to make full payment arrangements," McInnis said in a statement.

"I agree with the foundation that this brings this matter to a close, and I look forward to continuing to speak on the campaign trail about the critical issues facing all of Colorado, including jobs and economic recovery," he said.

Meanwhile, the man who recommended that McInnis be paid $300,000 for the water essays rejected suggestions Friday that the foundation was trying to buy influence.

Dr. Malik Hasan, who helped establish the Hasan Family Foundation, says the board was hoping to get recommendations on how to deal with Colorado's drought when it commissioned the essays from McInnis in 2005.

Hasan says he was disappointed when McInnis took a job in a law firm a month later and turned in reports that were unpublishable, but there was nothing he could do about it.

"Right then I had a very bad taste in my mouth," Hasan said.

McInnis, a six-term former congressman, faces Dan Maes in the Aug. 10 primary election.

Former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo said Thursday that the issue won't go away, and he called on McInnis to bow out of the race, but McInnis refused.

"Going to the woodshed is one thing, getting lined up by a firing squad is another," McInnis said.

But McInnis' refusal to bow out is not stopping some of his staffers from leaving. KMGH-TV reported Friday that McInnis' troubles prompted three staffers had resign, including policy Director Mac Zimmerman and political field Director Dustin Zvonek.

McInnis has explained that a longtime friend and water expert, Rolly Fischer, gave him copies of essays written by a Colorado Supreme Court justice without providing attribution. Fischer said McInnis is lying, and he refused to sign a letter accepting responsibility.

McInnis also has dismissed allegations that he plagiarized a Washington Post newspaper column for a column of his own that was published in the now-closed Rocky Mountain News. The candidate said he had permission from the authors to use the material.

McInnis said he did more than just write essays.

"It was a two-year agreement, a two-year fellowship, and it included other things like speaking," he said.