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McInnis Cleared of Dishonest Lawyer Conduct, But Questionable Politician Conduct Still a Problem

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Back in November, Scott McInnis told The Denver Post that he'd clear his name within a few short months. It wasn't clear what he meant, but you had to assume something would show that he didn't deserve the harsh treatment he got as he ran for governor in the last election.

He couldn't show that he really did not commit plagiarism, could he? I mean, the exact words in McInnis' water articles, written for the Hasan Family Foundation for $300,000, were lifted from another writer's work. This was clear and irrefutable, right?

McInnis couldn't blame the media? Or Dick Wadhams? Or even the Tea Party.

What could clear his name?

I waited impatiently, and no name-clearing happened. I was getting real desperate to know WTF was in McInnis' mind, and today rolled around.

It turns out that an attorney connected to the Colorado Supreme Court conducted an investigation, at the behest of Colorado Ethics Watch, on whether McInnis' behavior meets the lawyerly snuff test.

His investigation, indeed, cleans up McInnis a bit, but it doesn't clear his name, unless you believe throwing people under buses is a good idea.

John Gleason, who conducted the investigation, aired his conclusion in documents quoted by the Grand Junction Sentinel (posted previously here) this morning:

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...

So Gleason clears McInnis of dishonest lawyerly conduct.

But does it clear him of slimy, squeezy, mean politican conduct? Does it make his conduct look, ah, gubernatorial, if I can use that word there?

Sorry, no, no. And sorry again.

No one but a lawyer would believe it means much, in the political name-clearing business, if emails stated that Rollie Fischer was told not to plagiarize. And he apparently forgot or didn't read the fine print.

That's no reason for McInnis to go on TV and blame the plagiarism on Fischer. He should have taken responsibility himself. His name was on it. Fischer was confused, and so were the Hasans, according to the story in the Grand Junction Sentinel today.

Still, we don't know if today's news was, in fact, the name-clearing event that McInnis was referring to in November. You have to guess that it was, or at least that he had found correspondence with Fischer and the Hasans that put the blame for the water plagiarism on Fischer.

If so, if McInnis thought this would Shyne up his image, McInnis still doesn't get it.

His mistake was throwing his research assistant under the bus. He could have survived the plagiarism, probably. But his handling of it sunk his campaign.

He can't clear his name of those mistakes. That was his problem then, and that's what he's going to have to live with.