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Paul LePage's Welfare Reform Adviser Plagiarized Report From Progressive Think Tank

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ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

At least two full pages of a welfare reform report commissioned by Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) are lifted directly from work done by a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C.

"I have never seen this," said LaDonna Pavetti, vice president for family income support policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "It's literally two pages of text [that were copied]. It’s not a small piece of text."

In November, LePage awarded Gary Alexander and The Alexander Group a no-bid contract worth $925,000 for an evaluation of Maine's public assistance programs.

But according to the Bangor Daily News, Alexander's report plagiarizes CBPP's work:

One of the few sensible recommendations from his [Alexander's] group’s recently released 228-page report on Maine’s government assistance programs is for Maine to start a subsidized jobs program for its TANF recipients. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP, Maine is one of 10 states without such a program.

But in keeping with the rest of his paper, Alexander’s recommendation on subsidized work programs is far from original. In fact, much of it is lifted directly from the CBPP report.

To its credit, the Alexander Group cites the report as a source. But following the citation, the Alexander Group uses much of the CBPP report, word for word, passing it off as Alexander Group work.

The work is taken from a 2011 CBPP report called "Creating Subsidized Employment Opportunities For Low-Income Parents: The Legacy of the TANF Emergency Fund."

An example of the plagiarism occurs on p. 110 of The Alexander Group's report:

Most recently (from 2009 to present), subsidized jobs programs have largely been associated with two groups: welfare recipients and ex-offenders. As a part of efforts to shift the focus of their public-assistance programs to work, some state and county welfare agencies have used their regular TANF funds to create subsidized employment programs for individuals who have not been successful at finding unsubsidized employment.

Compare that section to p. 5 of CBPP's work:

Most recently, subsidized employment programs have largely been associated with two groups: welfare recipients and ex-offenders. As a part of efforts to shift the focus of their public assistance programs to work, some state and county welfare agencies have used their regular TANF funds to create subsidized employment programs for individuals who have not been successful at finding unsubsidized employment.

It's also interesting that LePage, a governor who has pushed to loosen child labor laws, might be taking the recommendations of a progressive think tank.

"It's a policy we support and we're glad they see it as a good idea," said Pavetti, referring to subsidized employment programs. "This is just different than the way our work is generally used."

Generally though, the report has offered few new ideas. According to the Bangor Daily News, it "praised the efforts of LePage’s administration in working to reduce fraud, waste and abuse in the state’s welfare system, and it presented many of the same recommendations that the Republican governor and his allies put forward in the form of bills during the recently concluded legislative session."

The no-bid contract to The Alexander Group has also come under quite a bit of scrutiny, with Democrats in the state legislature trying to cancel it. The group has already received $500,000, despite missing several deadlines.

LePage's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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