Wisconsin democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is interviewed by Wisconsin Public Television on July 24, 2014, in Janesville, Wis.
Photo by Andy Manis/AP

Wisconsin’s Mary Burke fires consultant amid plagiarism charges


Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has fired a campaign consultant following a report that sections of her jobs plan appear to have been plagiarized from the platform of three other Democrats.

Burke’s communications director Joe Zepecki told msnbc on Friday that the campaign has cut ties with Eric Schnurer, president of Philadelphia consulting firm Public Works. The move was made after the charges were first brought to the campaign’s attention Thursday night, he said.

Zepecki stressed that Burke’s vision for Wisconsin’s economy “is entirely her own and stand unquestioned by anyone.” He added that Schnurer was just one of several experts the campaign spoke with.

That, he said, “explains why in a few, isolated instances similar language from those plans is used to describe ideas that are widely accepted as best practices or are ideas which hold promise for Wisconsin.”

Schnurer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

BuzzFeed reported Thursday that large parts of Burke’s “Invest for Success” plan were lifted from the plans of Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in 2008, gubernatorial candidate Ward Cammack of Tennessee in 2009 and gubernatorial candidate John Gregg of Indiana in 2012.

Schnurer had previously worked on Markell, Cammack and Gregg’s campaigns.

Burke told USA Today that she’s “disappointed” in Schnurer but “I don’t think anyone can find really good plans that are out there that don’t build on best practices and research that has been used.” Burke also said it was a mischaracterization to label it as “plagiarism” because “the source of it is the source from the other plans as well.”

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Stephan Thompson, campaign manager for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is in a heated race against Burke, immediately pounced on the story. “It’s a sad day for Wisconsin when the Democratic nominee for governor misleads voters by offering a plagiarized jobs plan, in which she has staked her entire candidacy. Wisconsin deserve[s] better, and it’s clear that Mary Burke cannot be trusted to lead our state,” said Thompson.

A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows Walker and Burke in a dead heat with each accruing 46% of the vote among registered voters. Five percent are undecided.

The Burke plagiarism drama comes as Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby faces similar charges of her own.

Related: GOP candidate Monica Wehby comes out in favor of gay marriage