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George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, listens during a seminar titled "Charting A New Growth Path for the Euro Zone" at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC.  AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images) George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, listens during a seminar titled "Charting A New Growth Path for the Euro Zone" at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)  

Leftwing group’s attack on free market think tank riddled with plagiarism

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Robby Soave
Reporter

A leftwing group attempting to discredit a limited government think tank in Michigan may have backfired. Progress Michigan’s intended hit piece on the libertarian Mackinac Center for Public Policy contained several plagiarized passages, an analysis showed.

Most notably, “Mackinac Center Expose: Who’s running Michigan?” steals a passage from a 2011 Mother Jones article about Michigan’s financial manager law.

In the original article, MJ reporter Andy Kroll wrote:

In 2009, Amway and Wal-Mart were among the 3,100 businesses that signed a letter opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would’ve made it easier for employees to unionize; that same year, Wal-Mart spent $7.4 million on lobbying, much of it to defeat EFCA. (The law failed.)

The incredibly similar passage from Progress Michigan’s report initially read:

In 2009 Amway and Walmart were among the 3,100 businesses that signed a letter opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would have made it easier for employees to unionize. That same year, Walmart spent $7.4 million on lobbying, much of it to defeat EFCA.

Though MJ is cited, the passage does not use necessary quotes to indicate that the wording is exactly the same.

“Mackinac Center Exposed” also borrows similar wording and sentence structure from a second passage in Kroll’s article.

The report also copied an explanatory note about the Mackinac Center from a similarly slanted report written by the Center for Media and Democracy about the Goldwater Institute, a free market think tank in Arizona.

Here is the report on Goldwater:

Goldwater & ALEC’s Shared Agenda: The Goldwater Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded bill mill. Over the years, Goldwater staffers have proposed numerous bills at ALEC task force meetings, where elected officials and private sector members (like corporate lobbyists and special interest groups) vote as equals behind closed doors on templates to change the law. Under ALEC’s public bylaws, its state legislative leaders are tasked with a “duty” to get those bill introduced into law. The coordinated agenda that ALEC and the Goldwater Institute press for would…

And here was the report on Mackinac:

Mackinac and ALEC’s Shared Corporate Agenda: The Mackinac Center is an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate bill mill. Over the years, Mackinac staffers have proposed numerous bills at ALEC task force meetings, where elected officials and private sector members (like corporate lobbyists and special interest groups) vote as equals behind closed doors on templates to change the law. Under ALEC’s public bylaws, its state legislative leaders are tasked with a “duty” to get those bill introduced into law. The coordinated agenda that ALEC and the Mackinac Center advocate for includes…

Progress Michigan’s unethical reporting comes at a time when leftwing groups are ramping up their criticisms of state-based conservative think tanks and their donors–despite the fact that liberal groups spend even more money on their causes. (RELATED: Shock report: Liberal groups spent more on state elections in 2012 than conservatives)

A spokesperson for The Mackinac Center told The Daily Caller that the plagiarized report was evidence of Progress Michigan’s lack of professionalism.

“This calls into question the veracity of the entire report and the credibility of Progress Michigan,” said Ted O’Neil, media relations manager for the Mackinac Center. “Our scholarly research is peer-reviewed and subject to intense intellectual scrutiny. The same obviously cannot be said for the cookie-cutter, partisan attacks that Progress Michigan and the Center for Media and Democracy have churned out about us and several other public policy groups around the country.”

Since being called out for plagiarism, Progress Michigan has changed offending passages and added this disclaimer to the front page of the report: ”An earlier version of this report inadvertently left out two citations, which have been included in this version.”

The authors did more than simply add missing citations however; they also changed the wording of the passages so that they are now distinct from the other texts.

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