Journalists may not like to think of themselves playing school teachers to public officials and candidates, but they often serve this function. Are candidates following the rules? Are they telling the truth? Are they doing the things they said they’d do?
Journalists this election cycle have caught GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis repeatedly dodging and fudging and now plagiarizing in a way that amounts to major fraud. The man got paid $300,000 to produce a short series of articles, a “sweet” deal as he put it, by any measure. Yet he didn’t produce the articles. He copied and pasted them. Now he’s agreed to pay the money back to the Hasan Family Foundation. He says the payback arrangements are private and he won’t talk to the press about them. But McInnis hasn’t earned the privacy he seeks in this matter.
There are two questions that need to be answered by McInnis and, if he won’t answer them, the Hasan Foundation should answer for him:
When will you return the money? and Will you make a public announcement when the money is returned?
I emailed these questions to McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy this morning and he quickly replied:
That’s a matter between Scott and the Hasan family, as Scott said in his statement last week.
It’s not good enough to leave punishments like this to old friends to work out.
Observers all along the political spectrum agree this election cycle has raised serious questions about the integrity of Scott McInnis. McInnis is a public figure by choice and is asking the public to again place their faith in him to represent their interests honestly and in good faith as an elected official. The public deserves to know he has paid back his ill-gotten $300,000.
It’s not enough for McInnis to say he’ll sit down and make it right with the Hasans in private. This needs to be addressed in front of TV cameras and before laptop-wielding press reporters.