WASHINGTON -- After calling out an opponent for plagiarism, Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon pulled key parts of her own Keystone XL op-ed, which ran last week on a Connecticut news site, from the website of the corporation that stands to profit from construction of the $7 billion pipeline: TransCanada.
In her op-ed, McMahon, who is running for the seat held by retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), wrote of TransCanada's pipeline: "Keystone XL stands ready to put some 13,000 Americans to work to construct the actual pipeline. These would be pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, and heavy equipment operators, among others."
That sounds strikingly similar to what TransCanada itself wrote of the Keystone project on its website: "TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline -- pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs."
McMahon also wrote: "Another 7,000 manufacturing jobs would be created across the U.S. What's more, thousands of additional spin-off jobs likely would be created by the increased demand for local goods and services along the pipeline route."
Compare that with what's on the TransCanada site: "... in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers."
McMahon's office on Tuesday defended the language, arguing she is hardly alone in parroting TransCanada's numbers.
"These are factual statements widely used by advocates for the Pipeline," said McMahon spokeswoman Erin Isaac via email. "In researching the project and arguments both for and against it, the most compelling language revolves around job creation. These stats are repeated by respected industry experts and across multiple sources including TransCanada's website, which we should have cited in our piece. Ultimately, this project represents thousands of jobs and it remains unacceptable that this administration would continue to put up roadblocks when millions of Americans are still looking for work."
While that response does not address questions of literary authenticity, point taken. McMahon's office is certainly not alone in copying TransCanada's numbers without a fact check or attribution.
But those numbers are pure "monkey math," according to Trevor Houser of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "They assume that if the money isn't spent on that project, it will get burned in the street," he told CNNMoney.
HuffPost's Tom Zeller has documented that TransCanada's assertion about the pipeline creating 20,000 jobs -- 13,000 in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing -- is a considerable exaggeration. He wrote:
The 13,000 construction jobs, for example, are really "person years of employment" -- a bit of economic modeling jargon that simply means one person employed for one year. Under that scenario, which is laid out rather plainly in the study commissioned by TransCanada but is frequently mischaracterized, a single laborer working for two years to build the Keystone XL pipeline would be counted twice.
So it was that the State Department, in its analysis of the project, estimated that its construction would create only between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs -- over three years.
Construction work being what it is, those jobs would also evaporate as soon as the thing was built.
The Keystone XL pipeline, which would move oil an estimated 1,700 miles from tar sands in Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast, isn't the only issue to kick up copycat allegations in the race for Connecticut's open Senate seat.
After rival Republican Senate candidate Rob Simmons borrowed talking points from the National Federation of Independent Business to describe his own plans for jump-starting the state's economy, McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, was quick to condemn him.
"He's running against a businesswoman with real world business experience," McMahon spokesman Ed Patru told the Associated Press. "He's already at a decided disadvantage on the issue of job creation. Getting caught plagiarizing his job plan doesn't help to build credibility on the issue or build confidence."
Fairfield County money manager Peter Schiff, McMahon's other opponent for the Republican nomination, stayed mum on the issue. Simmons' office promptly removed the offending statement from its website, attributing the transgression to one of its young staffers, who Patru said had been thoroughly admonished.
Read McMahon's full op-ed piece here.
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