A ‘nonissue’ for McInnis? Depends on whom you ask | AspenTimes.com

A ‘nonissue’ for McInnis? Depends on whom you ask

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Scott McInnis

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Amid mounting calls from critics for Scott McInnis to abandon the governor’s race in light of plagiarism charges, local political leaders see the matter differently.

Don Vanderhoof, a longtime local Republican, said he didn’t “know much about it, except what I’ve read in the newspapers.” He suggested that newspaper reports on the controversy might be part of a dirty-tricks campaign.

As McInnis’ friend and former campaign manager, Vanderhoof said he speaks with him frequently, but “we have not talked about this.”

“This” is McInnis being accused of plagiarizing words, phrases and entire passages from an essay penned in 1984 by Gregory Hobbs, now a Colorado Supreme Court judge.

McInnis apparently wrote articles and made speeches about Colorado water law as part of a fellowship granted to him by the Hasan Family Foundation. McInnis reportedly was paid $300,000 for the work, which was submitted as 150 pages in 23 installments in 2005 and 2006.

But according to reports in Tuesday’s Denver Post, the articles were written by Rollie Fischer of Glenwood Springs, a longtime friend of McInnis’ and an expert on water issues. According to The Denver Post, the articles contained many words and phrases that were identical to Hobbs’ 1984 essay on a particular water issue.

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Fischer, reached at his home by the Post Independent on Tuesday, said that “Scott’s responsible for it” but refused to comment further.

McInnis at one point called the ensuing furor about the matter “a nonissue,” although he later conceded that it is a serious issue and said that he had apologized to Hobbs.

In general, Vanderhoof told the Post Independent, “I certainly know Scott is not the type of person that would do anything knowingly … to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes.”

As for calls that McInnis should pull out of the governor’s race, Vanderhoof did not go along.

“I can’t believe he should do something like that,” he said. “That’s pretty serious, you know. And perhaps what he did was serious, I don’t know.”

But, Vanderhoof said, the issues involved in the governor’s race are “too important to walk away over something like this.”

Aside from the political furor that has grown out of news reports, Vanderhoof said, “The timing is a little strange.”

He accused McInnis’ opponents of timing the release of the story for a period “when it would do the most harm,” only weeks before the Aug. 10 Republican primary. McInnis faces businessman Dan Maes in the primary next month.

“Who knows when they found out about it?” said Vanderhoof, referring to the facts of The Denver Post story, and pointing out that the newspaper “wants the mayor of Denver to be our next governor.”

Another longtime friend of McInnis’, Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, said Wednesday that he didn’t know anything about it. Martin said he had been away for a day and was out of touch with the news.

But, he said, “If there’s plagiarism involved, well, we have to be on the up and up. If it’s somebody else’s work, label it as somebody else’s.”

As for the calls for McInnis to pull out of the governor’s race, Martin reiterated that he did not know enough about the circumstances to make a comment.

jcolson@postindependent.com

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