[UPDATE: Carl DeMaio called late Monday to say he was “mortified” by the situation and that National Journal should have been credited as the original source of his report on congressional pensions. “I’m terribly sorry,” he said.
DeMaio said his staff had produced the pensions report at his direction but he did not know the full extent to which its contents had been lifted from National Journal until Monday morning. Still, he took full responsibility. “I don’t throw my staff under the bus,” he said.
He said he still hoped to change the system of members of Congress receiving public pensions, citing past success at the local level when “we’ve been able to shame” unwilling politicians into such reforms.
The original story appears below.]
Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio is attacking his opponent for pension double-dipping but he appears to be plagiarizing National Journal to do it.
DeMaio has claimed to have authored a “report” finding that 102 members of Congress are drawing a government pension atop their congressional salaries. He leaked an advanced copy to The Wall Street Journal on Monday and is following up with an event in San Diego this morning to induct some lawmakers, most notably his opponent, Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., into a “Hall of Shame.”
But his “report” looks like little more than a copied-and-pasted version of a National Journal database that accompanied a cover story last June on congressional double-dipping. National Journal reviewed the financial disclosure forms of every member of the House and Senate to create the database and reveal that nearly one in five members of Congress are collecting taxpayer-funded retirements atop their $174,000 salaries.
The data in DeMaio’s version, which is touted as a “Report by Carl DeMaio” on its first page, matches the National Journal database, down to the text, colors, and abbreviations.
Among the few differences, DeMaio put a “$” and commas in the field detailing the amount of lawmakers’ public pensions.
Also, Peters did not appear in the original National Journal database because he filed an extension on his financial disclosure form in 2013. He appears to have been inserted into DeMaio’s copied list, which can be seen because the colors of lawmakers’ entries vary with each person, with the exception of Peters.
“DeMaio Revealing 102 Members of Congress Get Paid Twice,” his campaign advertised in a press release on Monday, previewing the event at his campaign office and linking to The Wall Street Journal piece.
DeMaio spokesman Dave McCulloch defended the report, arguing that DeMaio had been “targeting state and local politicians” for pensions since 2004.
“As Carl takes his pension-reform efforts national, the campaign expanded his list to include members of Congress, using publicly available data including Member Financial Interest Disclosures and the previous reporting done by National Journal,” McCulloch said.
He claimed the campaign document is “the first report on Double Dipping covering the current Congress,” though no new financial disclosures have been released since the National Journal database was published last June, except for lawmakers who filed extensions.
Meanwhile, Peters’ office told The Wall Street Journal that the congressman donates his pension to local libraries.
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