Huffpost Politics

Lee Terry, GOP Congressman, Blames 'Oversight' For Unattributed Statement On Website

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LEE TERRY
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) used portions of a speech given by his colleague Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) on his website without attribution, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

In a statement to the World-Herald, the congressman said the lack of attribution for the statement was an "unintentional oversight."

“As we work to bring transparency and accountability to President Obama's overreaching programs and failed big government policies such as his health care plan — there will be countless areas of agreement between me and my colleagues,” Terry said. “It was an unintentional oversight to not attribute those shared visions with my fellow representative. I have taken appropriate steps to rectify the situation.”

The text in question is a policy statement that formerly appeared on Lee's website, detailing his stance on job growth and the economy.

"Just about everywhere I go in the district I hear from Nebraska's job creators. These are leaders and entrepreneurs who take time to stop me and explain how tough times are right now. Their stories are different, but their message is the same: uncertainty, burdensome regulations, and the fear of higher taxes are making it harder to create jobs and stay afloat," read the statement on his website.

The World-Herald, tipped off by an anonymous Democratic political operative, pointed out the striking similarities to a 2011 Weekly Republican Address delivered by Ellmers.

"I’m speaking to you today from the House Small Business Committee, where just about every week we hear from America’s job creators. These are leaders and entrepreneurs who take time out and come to Washington to explain how tough things are right now. Their stories are different, but their message is the same: uncertainty, burdensome regulations, and the fear of higher taxes are making it harder to create jobs and stay afloat," Ellmers said.

The statement has since been removed from Terry's website.

A 2010 Huffington Post analysis of members of Congress' statements, speeches and campaign literature found that dozens of lawmakers often used party talking points verbatim, but passed them off as their own points of view or policy statements.

The Huffington Post's Lucia Graves, Ryan Grim and Ben Craw reported:

The most flagrant violations come from an unlikely corner: A dozen members of the House Tea Party Caucus have made word-for-word use of GOP talking points, presenting them as statements of their own. These self-styled renegade Republicans are, quite literally, reading from a script written in Washington. The source of that script is usually GOP.gov, the website of Republicans in Congress.

One can hear Republican lawmakers read from the script verbatim on the floor of both the House -- Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) -- and the Senate -- Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "Middle-class families and small businesses are making sacrifices when it comes to their own budget, yet Washington continues to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars on bailouts and other government programs," said Pitts, drawing straight from a set of GOP talking points. "The spending in this budget is so massive that independent estimates suggest roughly 250,000 new federal bureaucrats may be needed to spend it all," said Hatch, quoting a different talking point from the same handout.

Terry himself has previously come under scrutiny for his use of others' language.

In 2009, a New York Times report detailed how 42 members of the House, including Terry, used statements drafted by lobbyists during debate over the Affordable Care Act. The Nebraska Republican later apologized for using a speech written by lobbyists working for biotech giant Genentech.

"In the future, our office will make sure our words are clearly our own and not the result of cutting and pasting someone else's comments," he said in a statement.

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