Melania Trump is facing mounting criticism over her speech at the Republican National Convention last night, which contained similar lines to Michelle Obama’s address to the Democratic National Conventioneight years ago.
But Donald Trump’s third wife and former model isn’t the only political figure who’s been accused of plagiarism — a charge the Trump campaign vehemently denies.
Here are five politicians who’ve come under fire for allegedly using words that aren’t their own:
1. Joe Biden
The vice president had previously used lines from British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock while campaigning for president decades ago, but he gave credit. But Biden was accused of plagiarism when he failed to do so at the Democratic debate at the Iowa State fair in August 1987. He dropped out of the race not long after.
The speech Biden gave included these lines: “I started thinking as I was coming over here: Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife… is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because they didn’t work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It’s because they didn’t have a platform on which to stand.”
The speech Kinnock delivered to a Welsh Labour Party conference in May 1987 included these lines: “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Pointing to his wife in the audience:] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick? Does anybody really think that they didn’t get what we had because they didn’t have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment? Of course not. It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.”
In 1987, a Biden aide, Thomas Donilon, told the New York Times that the lack of attribution was “an oversight or inadvertent,” adding that Biden had credited Kinnock in other instances.
2. Scott Brown
In 2011, the former Republican Massachusetts senator was accused by a Democratic Super PAC from his home state of plagiarizing remarks on his website from former Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina. The American Bridge claimed that a passage was taken almost word-for-word from a speech by Dole.
Before being removed from his website, this passage from Brown read:
“I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference. From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.”
Brown’s message practically mirrored the remarks delivered by Dole at her Senate campaign kickoff in 2002.
“I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter, raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference. From an early age I was taught that success is measured, not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe in.”
Brown laid the blame on an intern.
“It was a summer intern that put together the site, we corrected it once we found out,” he told the Boston Globe, adding that his office had “very little time and resources to put things up” at the time of the website’s launch.
“They did it, we were notified of it, we fixed it — end of story,” Brown said.
3. Rand Paul
The Kentucky Republican senator was accused in 2013 of cribbing words for a speech from a Wikipedia entry about the movie “Gattaca.” The speech in question was delivered at Liberty University in Virginia in support of the state’s Republican candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, and contained this line: “In the not-too-distant future, eugenics is common, and DNA plays a primary role in determining your social class.”
The passage is similar to this line from the Wikipedia page for “Gattaca”: “In ‘the not-too-distant future,’ liberal eugenics is common, and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class.”
The similarities were first pointed out on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC and picked up by BuzzFeed and other media outlets.
“We borrowed the plot lines from Gattaca. It’s a movie,” Paul told ABC News in 2013. “I gave credit to the people who wrote the movie…Nothing I said was not given attribution to where it came from.”
4. John Walsh
A New York Times analysis in 2014 alleged that the former Democratic Montana senator had plagiarized a final paper required for his master’s degree from the United States Army War College. Walsh, who graduated in 2007, was accused of copying at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other sources without attribution, including an entire page nearly word-for-word from a Harvard paper. Each of his six conclusions were also allegedly taken from a document from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace with no credit, the analysis claimed.
“Throughout the paper Mr. Walsh cites the work of other authors in footnotes, but uses their exact – or almost exact – language without quotation marks,” according to the New York Times.
In an interview with the Times in 2014, Walsh said he believed he didn’t do anything “intentional” and denied the accusations of plagiarism. According to the paper, an aide suggested that the accusations be seen in the context of the totality of Walsh’s career.
5. Vladimir Putin
Researchers at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., accused Putin of heavily borrowing from a 1978 textbook in his 1997 dissertation in economics at the St. Petersburg State Mining Institute. The researchers claimed that 16 of 20 pages of the opening of Putin’s paper, titled “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations,” were lifted from “Strategic Planning and Public Policy,” written by two University of Pittsburgh academics.
“It all boils down to plagiarism,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Clifford G. Gaddy told the Washington Times in 2006. “Whether you’re talking about a college-level term paper, not to mention a formal dissertation, there’s no question in my mind that this would be plagiarism.”
Anatoly Suslov, who was present at Putin dissertation defense at the St. Petersburg State Mining Institute, said the accusations were false.
“The opponent was someone from Moscow. The defense went calmly. There were many questions, of course, since it was a candidate’s dissertation, but there was no question of plagiarism. No one uncovered anything of the kind. Vladimir Putin defended himself, and he prepared his own work,” Suslov told Kommersant, a Russian daily newspaper, in 2006. “All those conversations about dissertations being bought are untrue. Ours isn’t the kind of institute where you can do that.”