The Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Regulation Counsel found no cause for discipline in Scott McInnis' plagiarism allegations.
The former republican gubernatorial candidate was accused of plagiarizing then-Attorney Gregory J. Hobbs, now Colorado Supreme Court Justice, 1984 essay on Colorado water rights. Of McInnis's 150 pages entitled "Musings On Water," numerous passages were copied verbatim from Hobbs's work or at least resembled it closely enough to raise suspicions. The plagiarism allegations delivered a hard blow to the McInnis campaign and ultimately cost him the race.
McInnis, who was reportedly paid $300,000 for the article by the Hasan Family Foundation, initially blamed his assistant and longtime friend Rolly Fischer. When confronted about McInnis's plagiarism however, Fischer vehemently denied responsibility for the plagiarism and even told the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, "Scott's responsible for it."
The Hasan Family Foundation later released a statement asking that McInnis return the $300,000 he received for the article. McInnis's campaign responded by saying he would repay, and Colorado Ethics Watch filed a request that he be investigated.
After completing its investigation, the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel said it found “no clear and convincing evidence of dishonest conduct” by McInnis.
The letter, signed by head of Regulation Counsel John S. Gleason also went on to say that the matter has been dismissed.
An excerpt from the letter reads:
Based on the sworn testimony of Mr. Fischer, and his contemporaneous emails, personal notes and other documents produced by him, it is clear that in 2005 Mr. McInnis both disclosed to Mr. Fischer that his draft articles may be published by the Hasan Family Foundation and instructed Mr. Fischer (a water law expert but inexperienced author) that he must not plagiarize anyone's work, but should provide appropriate citations when using the materials of others.
Gleason told HuffPost that he couldn't go into specific details of the case, but said that every investigation is very thorough and takes time. This particular investigation, Gleason said, took eight months to complete.
On it's website, Ethics Watch said:
We are satisfied that the OARC has conducted a full and fair investigation, and we accept their judgment as to whether to proceed. Had Ethics Watch not filed its request for investigation, it is possible that there never would have been an official investigation of this serious matter.