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*** UPDATED x2 - Iowa candidate admits copying - Claim is “a lie” *** Can’t anybody play this game?

Monday, May 5, 2014

*** UPDATE 2 *** Cleared

Charges of plagiarism dogged Democrat Ann Callis’ campaign for Congress for about six hours Monday until a staffer running a campaign in Iowa cleared the former judge from Edwardsville.

Callis, vying to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, was accused by Illinois Republican Party Chairman Jack Dorgan Monday morning of pilfering lines for her campaign website from Iowa Democrat Staci Appel.

By mid-afternoon, Appel campaign manager Ben Miller said it was his campaign that copied the material.

“The language identified on that page was intended to be a temporary placeholder and was inadvertently published,” Miller said in an email. “We removed the copy when it was brought to our attention.”

*** UPDATE 1*** From an e-mail…


Just wanted to get you the correct information regarding your post on the Callis website. The Republican attacks are a lie—our site was up with full content weeks before the Appel campaign had anything but a splash page on their site.

August 16, 2013: Callis launches live site with issue statements:

September 7, 2013: A web capture search found that on 9/7/2013 the Appel campaign only has a splash page—without any issue content.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


Marshall Cohen
Campaign Manager, Ann Callis for Congress (IL-13)

Apparently, nobody can play this game.


[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Yesterday, a state Republican Party official sent me a screen shot of Democratic congressional candidate Ann Callis’ campaign home page…

He noted that the domain named had expired on May 3rd. “Heck of a campaign so far!” he cracked.


* The Republicans appear to have been doing some opposition research, because after the website went live again, the state GOP unleashed this attack…

BREAKING: Ann Callis Caught Plagiarizing On Her Campaign Website

“Cut-and-Paste Callis” lifts whole sections from Iowa Democrat’s “Issues” Page… and tries to pass them off as her own.

Plagiarism Scandal is the latest example of Callis’ refusal to tell the voters of the 13th District what she stands for.

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Ann Callis, running for Congress in Illinois’s 13th Congressional District, was caught today plagiarizing key phrases, issue positions, and entire sections of the “issues” page on her website.

In two sections of her “issues” page, Callis’ entire position on “Women’s Health” and “Alternative Energy” are nearly identical to the positions on the website of Staci Appel, a Democrat running for Congress in Iowa, with the name changed to “Ann Callis” instead.

“Ann Callis thinks she deserves to be your Congresswoman, but she has to steal someone else’s words to tell you why,” said Jack Dorgan, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “Callis owes the people of the 13th District an explanation, not an excuse.”

On Callis’ web page (as of May 4, 2014):

    A total of at least 186 words have been copied directly from Staci Appel’s page, in four different issue sections: “Pragmatic Leadership,” “Education,” “Alternative Energy,” and “Women’s Health.”

    Ann Callis’ issues page went live on January 9, 2014, more than two full weeks after Staci Appel’s (12/24/13, per Web.Archive.Org).

* This looks more like the usual lazy, cut and paste DCCC amateur hour crud than actual plagiarism. But it’s a legit hit. Here’s just one example. “Women’s health”…

* Both candidates’ issues pages…

* Staci Appel

* Ann Callis

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:40 am:


  2. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    Bambenek is foaming at the mouth over this. Get a grip, dude.

  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Every aspect of a campaign needs to reflect the quality and character of the candidate. That isn’t happening here.

    Make of it what you wish, but someone is on autopilot and hasn’t taken control over her own campaign through guidelines, personnel or management.

    What Callis was exposed as doing online would be as if she announces a press conference, but the only thing journalists got was a phone message.

  4. - Ahoy! - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    Yes, it’s not plagiarism when the same staffer rights the same thing, but it doesn’t look good. Of course, I highly doubt too many people vote on this kind of issue and quite frankly the Republican party needs to stay as far away from Republican issues as they can, even if it was pointing out the same wording, I would have let it go because of the issue.

  5. - Walker - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    OMG Congressional candidate uses national party talking points!

    Will the outrage never cease?

  6. - Responsa - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    This would matter more if anybody bothered to take any candidate website seriously or went there to seek actual information that is useful and timely.

  7. - Big Joe - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Who Cares??? Much to do about nothing.

  8. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    RapidRodney still has not explained his money laundering escapade with the ReBooters and now he whines about sharing info with another member of Congress. Wow this is rich. What will Dorgan think of next “Fire Madigan” ?

  9. - Norseman - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    === Who Cares??? Much to do about nothing. ===

    Yes, this is done all the time by both parties among offices throughout the nation. But voters do need to know that the politicians they’re voting for are simply regurgitating canned party messages. Most folks on this blog know this occurs, but that’s not the case for the general public.

  10. - justsayin' - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    If memory serves, GOP congressional candidate Sharon Branigan was caught plagiarizing her answers to the Chicago Tribune without attribution. Tribune made a point to mention that in disqualifying her.

  11. - Toure's Latte - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    So she sticks to the national platform word for word. Big deal.

  12. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    Sooner or later the DCCC will forget to change the candidate’s name too. Good thing they corrected the “a women” mistake. It would have been hilarious if each candidate made same mistake.

    How hard is it to review the text for your issues page? Is that too much to ask of a congressional candidate?

  13. - Precinct Captain - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    =How hard is it to review the text for your issues page? Is that too much to ask of a congressional candidate?=

    How many congressional candidates could explain the Internet as anything but a “series of tubes”? How many actually check their own websites? What would they learn there? (Apparently quite a lot sometimes.)

    As for the domain expiration, that’s just inexplicable by DCCC tech people, who I assume are running this show.

  14. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    The DCCC has been a running joke since Rahm left them, I’m not surprised if more of these examples pop up in the next several hours.

    The DCCC is excellent at raising money, but their political and communications staff is very sub-par. General Washington DC talking points sent out to all DCCC targeted congressional races, without any local flavor; Political staff with egos that have the my way or the highway mantra, and who have been known to butt heads with congressional staff.

    I encourage anybody with Netflix to watch HouseQuake, that’s how DCCC needs to be run, but I don’t see another Rahm coming in anytime soon.

  15. - Write Right - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Well, cute, but won’t swing a single vote. Biden not only plagiarized, but lied and he’s vice president. “Stealing” words to truthfully express your opinion is no big deal.

    But I’m trying to figure out the GOP. If the domain issue was a big deal, why didn’t they snag the domain? If they weren’t able to, and Callis’ site was still running, it seems like a nothing issue.

    My guess though is that Bernie, Erickson, and Kacich write about the snafus which will at least have some impact on donors, so a net negative for Callis.

  16. - Not Five Thirty Eight - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    Rich - Are you going to “cross out” the GOP hit given that they got caught in a fib?

  17. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    So Appel actually copied from Callis?

    Well, Appel is about to get a nice surprise…

  18. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    The Callis and Appel websites use identical wording, and the Callis campaign wishes to point out the error that the Appel website was the basis for the Callis website.

    They want us to accept that both sites are almost identical to wording on issues, but one went online before the other.

    OK - but there is still a big question regarding where Callis stands on these issues - in her own words. It is a cookie cutter website built by folks who didn’t seem to work with Callis or Appel, and generated by other people working for the DCCC.

    How is that any better?

    The issue remains that these are not her words to voters in her district. It is the Internet version of a “Your Face Here!” ad on a park bench.

    The GOP attack is not completely correct. Upon correction, Callis still looks like an amateur.

  19. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    “I can’t keep my website registered while running for Congress, but I can run the nation. Vote Callis.”

    Whether the website is fancy or simple, this is the most basic thing to take care of during a tie like this. It’s not like the website was hacked. I would expect this sort of self-inflicted wound from Frerichs, not Callis.

  20. - Pete - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    New Media Campaigns = cookie cutter website and scapegoat

  21. - Write Right - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    Not sure you can be entirely sure of Callis’ culpability here. I googled the wording and I only get Callis and Appel and so it appears it begins with Callis. Sure, maybe the DCCC put it together, or some staffer. But it certainly could have been Callis and I’m not sure why it would be assumed it wasn’t.

    Then Appel stole it. Not sure what Callis should have done about that.

    I guess whoever set up the domain name didn’t want to click the auto renew button, afraid that Callis would lose the primary.

  22. - Adam Smith - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    Bottom line is that the DCCC (and House Dems in Illinois) program their candidates with poll-tested and focus grouped talking points. They impose message discipline and make weak candidates strong by preventing independent thoughts or unforced errors.

    This is not new and the GOP certainly tries to do the same thing.

    Regardless of which candidate posted what first, it is again clear that we are dealing with two wind up toys that will be completely beholden to party leadership.

  23. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    Now will Jack “Fire Madigan” Dorgan can the staff who dreamed up this disaster?

  24. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    CFS - presumably right after the DCCC fires the staff who made both candidates look like partisan drones with this copy-and-paste, and then right after Ann “Independent Thinker” Callis fires the staff who botched her website.

    Then maybe Dorgan can consider firing staff simply for noticing and pointing out this plagiarism in the first place.

  25. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    Hey - the folks who put the words into the websites aren’t the ones who care about what goes into the websites. And if the ones who care about what goes into the candidate’s website would show a bit of respect for the ones who actually do the web work - then the whole thing wouldn’t have happened.

    When sites are built it is often common to have them in test mode using non-words in the text boxes.

    Callis and Appel should be glad their sites didn’t go online using that. Both candidates needs to give a crap about their web presence and fully understand it.

    With this embarrassment, neither candidate looks ready for anything at all.

  26. - strawman - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    Interesting that the Appel page no longer lists an “Issues” section. is currently blocking public access.

    As “Issues” page existed as recently as April 17, according to

  27. - Dirty Red - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Which Illinois Republican Party is leading this attack exactly? No wonder party labels hurt Illinois GOP contenders.

  28. - Demoralized - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    For the 1% of people who follow politics closely enough to even know candidates have websites, this is abysmal.

    To the the other 99% of the population . . . Who. Cares.

  29. - Commander Norton - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    Yeah, the Callis campaign basically threw Staci Appel under the bus. Not that it matters in Illinois, but that’s still a rather tasteless thing to do. I don’t care if the same staffer wrote both; you always change up the wording a bit.

  30. - Walker - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    Not only the national parties, but I’ve seen Americans For Prosperity talking points verbatim across multiple candidates’ press and webpages, and of course there’s ALEC which actually provides bill language to legislators in 50 states.

  31. - ChrisB - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    DTrip is on a roll today. Same exact thing happened in Florida.

  32. - Upon Further Review - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:11 pm:

    Obama has cribbed lines from Deval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren in his two presidential campaigns. The echo of Patrick probably related to the fact that Axelrod managed both candidates.

  33. - Late to the Party - Tuesday, May 6, 14 @ 6:42 am:

    Website registration expired is not a big deal. Think letting a magazine subscription lapse.

    On a related note, earlier this year the IRS had an expired security certificate associated with their web site. Where was/is the outrage over that?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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