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Wolf campaign fires policy document plagiarist

Tom Wolf, Democratic candidate for governor, plagiarizes a piece of his policy plan; rival Allyson Schwartz points it out.

Tom Wolf's campaign for governor said it has fired the person responsible for lifting passages from Johnson Controls Inc. in a section of its policy plan dealing with energy efficiency.

The move came late Thursday, after the campaign of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, one of Wolf's opponents for the Democratic nomination, pointed out in a news release what it called the "troubling plagiarism" in his Fresh Start governing blueprint.

"I have directed the staff to make sure nothing like this ever happens again and have asked for a new process to be put in place to ensure it does not," Wolf, a York businessman and former state revenue secretary, said in a statement.

A campaign spokesman annouced the dismissal but did not name the responsible party.

The Schwartz campaigned identified four paragraphs that include sentences identical to parts of two different reports published by Johnson Controls, an international distributor of energy equipment. One of the passages describes the benefits of energy efficiency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the other three are about retrofitting existing buildings for efficiency. (See the company's reports here and here.)

"Tom Wolf claims to be a different kind of candidate [and] says he will lead us in a new direction…yet the words are not even his own," Mark Bergman, spokesman for Schwartz, said. "Pennsylvanians deserve some honest straight answers."

Wolf's campaign said it collected ideas in its 46-page plan from public and private sector sources, as well as nonprofit think tanks and advocacy groups. Many of the ideas are credited in footnotes.

"It was important to us to give credit where credit was due," said a statement from Wolf spokesman Mark Nicastre. "The language that has been pointed out should never have appeared in the manner in which it did. We are putting processes in place to make sure this does not happen again. This was a mistake and we regret it."

The purloined sentences appear in the section of the report on natural resources, under the heading "Accelerating Potential Job Growth and Investments in Energy Efficiency."

Wolf is the frontrunner in the four-person Democratic primary race for governor.