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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Utah Congressional Candidate Burgess Owens Accused Of Plagiarism

Photo of a man speaking into a microphone
Steve Griffin
According to a report from Media Matters for America, Utah 4th Congressional District candidate Burgess Owens plagiarized several passages of a book he authored in 2018.

Burgess Owens, the Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, plagiarized several passages in a 2018 book, according to the the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters for America

Published Tuesday, the article identifies 12 excerpts in Owens book “Why I Stand” that are nearly identical to passages from Wikipedia articles, consverative publications, a history book, and others. Some don’t include any citation for those sources. Other pages in the book include citations, but don’t make it clear that Owens is quoting directly from those sources. 

For example, the article highlights a section from the book about the Reconstruction Era in American history that is almost identical to a post on Howard University’s library website. Only two words are different in the two-sentence paragraph, and there is no citation. Media Matters links in its article to the Howard University web page, as it appeared on Jan. 17, 2018 — about 10 months before Owens’ book was published. 

Credit Screenshot from Media Matters for America article

There are also parts of Owens’ book identified that are taken from conservative news outlets, like a section about the Great Experiment that also appears in an article in the conservative media organization Townhall

Credit Screenshot from Media Matters for America article

“I think it speaks to honesty,” said Media Matters President and CEO Angelo Carusone. “And I think it speaks to whether or not they're going to do the hard work of representing their constituents as opposed to reflecting back something that you hear in the right wing media.”

Owens’ campaign, as well as the book’s publisher Post Hill Press, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Owens is set to speak at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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