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Hinson fires consulting firm she says was responsible for plagiarism, apologizes again

State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, watches as House Speaker Pat Grassley takes the oath of office during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.
State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, watches as House Speaker Pat Grassley takes the oath of office during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.(Charlie Neibergall | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 2:27 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa House member Ashley Hinson has severed ties with a consulting firm that she said was responsible for the plagiarism found on her congressional campaign’s website after the incidents were uncovered by the New York Times.

In a statement published to the campaign’s website, Hinson, the Republican candidate challenging incumbent Democrat Rep. Abby Finkenauer in Iowa’s first congressional district, also offered an additional apology for the incidents as well as an admission of responsibility for the statements published to the campaign’s website.

“As a former journalist, it is my responsibility to perform the proper due diligence to ensure that what I release is original and is attributed properly,” Hinson wrote, in a statement. “To be transparent, an employee of the consulting firm I used to help with background and some writing took word for word several informational statements from others and included it in many of the pieces that I later approved and published. I have ended my working relationship with that company. What happened was wrong and violated your trust.”

On Monday, the Times showed paragraphs from Hinson’s website which copied a story from that newspaper word-for-word, accounting for 91 words out of a 642-word page. The article listed other examples of passages taken from other news outlets, including the Des Moines Register and The Hill.

Some of the examples provided by the Times were removed from Hinson’s website after her campaign was made aware of them, according to the Times.

Finkenauer said she was “deeply disappointed” by the incident in a post on her Twitter account.

Hinson is the current Iowa House member for District 67, which includes northern parts of the Cedar Rapids metro area in Hiawatha, Marion, and Robins.

Read the full statement from Ashley Hinson below:

“I spent more than a decade on the air building the trust of viewers. I strive to hold myself to a high level of integrity and the plagiarism that was brought to my attention from the New York Times reporting is unacceptable to me and to Iowans. I immediately took action when the mistakes were brought to my attention. I sincerely apologize and take full responsibility.  

As a former journalist, it is my responsibility to perform the proper due diligence to ensure that what I release is original and is attributed properly. To be transparent, an employee of the consulting firm I used to help with background and some writing took word for word several informational statements from others and included it in many of the pieces that I later approved and published. I have ended my working relationship with that company. What happened was wrong and violated your trust. 

Let me be clear: the values and issue positions that were put out under my name are 100% my views. These are the views that I share with a majority of the voters here in eastern Iowa, and in that I do not waiver. We will be working to ensure that this never happens again. 

Congresswoman Finkenauer has copied and pasted Speaker Pelosi’s agenda, and that is not Iowa common sense. She has praised the Green New Deal, which would devastate Iowa agriculture. She supports raising taxes on Iowa families and small businesses, and Abby casts her vote with Nancy Pelosi 91% of the time. 

I value honesty and I know Iowans do too. There are too many politicians covering things up and not being honest with people-- it’s what’s wrong with Washington. I’m running to change that so we can do better as a country. I will work every day from now until November showing voters that the leaders they send to Washington must uphold personal responsibility, and work transparently and honestly. I will take these core values and serve as a strong voice for Iowans in Congress.”

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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