Water Engineer Surfaces, Says Scott McInnis Lied

Breaking: Our local ABC News station got an on camera interview with Rolly Fischer, the water engineer Scott McInniss blamed for his plagiarism while working as a $300,000 paid fellow for the Hasan Foundation. The interview will be on air in 20 minutes, but they have this article up now:

The man Scott McInnis blamed for the plagiarized material in an article on water rights told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia, the candidate for Governor lied and he wants to set the record straight.

In an exclusive interview, Rolly Fischer told Ferrugia, he did not know his research was going to be used for articles for which McInnis was paid $300,000 by a private foundation.

Ferrugia asked, "Rolly, is Scott McInnis lying to us? "Yes," said Fischer.


The 82-year old Fischer said, "I never knew about the foundation or any foundation Scott was associated with."

"Did you know how he was using these?" Ferrugia asked.

"No. I had this sophomoric assumption that he wanted them for his own inventory," said Fischer.

Fischer said, he was paid a few hundred dollars per article and he believed the research was simply going to McInnis for education on water rights in Colorado in preparation for a 2008 U.S. Senate campaign.

"It was my impression Scott was looking for background information," said Fischer.

This is what I speculated last night:

If I had to speculate, I'd say McInnis called Fischer as an adviser, not a research assistant; Fischer sent him material that might be helpful, including Hobbs' article; and that was the end of his involvement. McInnis says Fischer is willing to accept responsibility. But for what? Sending him the Hobbs article to give him ideas for his own, or drafting a plagiarized article. I'll bet it's the former, and Fischer doesn't cop to plagiarizing.

There's more, from the CBS article:

"Did you know these were to be published somewhere?" asked Ferrugia.

"Absolutely not. This was a private communication between Scott and me. I mean, I knew it was a private communication," said Fischer. "I did not know that he intended to submit that as his personal work."

Fischer said he thought he was doing a favor for a family friend and was appalled when, this week according to Fischer, the McInnis campaign sent a letter to Fischer, for him to sign.

It gets worse. Here's the letter McInnis sent him to sign:

Dear Scott:

I am writing to express my sincere apology for failing to provide appropriate attribution for the research I provided for the water articles we collaborated on. While my mistake was not intentional, it is nonetheless clear that this material needed footnotes.

This mistake was solely my own and I recognize that my work fell short of the expectations you had when you included me in this project.

Again, please accept my deep apology.


Rolly Fischer

Rolly didn't sign it. He says:

Fischer said he would never sign the letter.

Ferrugia asked, "He wants you to take full responsibility?"

"Oh, yeah," said Fischer.

"What do you think of that?" asked Ferrugia.

"I think it's wrong. It's absolutely wrong," replied Fischer.

Still, Fischer says McInnis should stay in the race:

"Do you believe he ought to pull out of the race?" Ferrugia asked.

"No. I think he ought to hang in there and rattle and I think that the primary will be very tough," said Fischer.

So did Fischer sent him Hobbs' article, but didn't say it was written by Hobbs and McInnis thought Fischer had written it so it was okay to submit it as his own because they were friends?

Fischer was being paid, but paltry amounts, certainly not enough for an original article. It makes his contention that he was being paid to assemble research, not write articles more credible. The one question the interviewer didn't ask (at least in the written version) was whether Hobbs name was on the article he sent McInnis. If the live version answers this, I'll update.

Update: In the on camera interview, Fischer says McInnis paid him $100 a month. He said that had he known McInnis had intended to publish the material he sent, he would have personally visited Justice Hobbs and asked for permission. He didn't even know McInnis was being paid for articles or a fellow with the Foundation.

The interview was very compelling, watching this 82 year old man, hunched over and with a cane, who clearly didn't want to hurt McInnis but resents the intended stain on his reputation. When asked if McInnis lied, he really didn't want to answer. After a couple of tries to deflect the question, he answered with a simple "Yes", followed by ""[He's] a long-time friend who has gotten himself into this kind of box. He's smarter than that. He's smarter than that."

That part almost seemed spliced. I'm not positive his "yes" was in response to "Did he lie?" but the station says it was.

They also didn't play the portion where Fischer said McInnis should stay in the race, the interviewer reported that at the end.

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  • Display: Sort:
    The optics of trying to hang your (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 11:15:46 PM EST
    plagiarism on an old guy are really not good--at all.

    "think tanks" (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 11:47:59 PM EST
    Is this the way "think tanks" typically work?  They pay some guy a six-figure salary for "thinking" and producing a handful of articles?

    Where do I go to get a gig like that?

    You're missing one thing... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by observed on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 09:16:59 AM EST
    the think tank has to know what your "findings" will be before they hire you.

    Apparently they pay some guy a six-figure (none / 0) (#5)
    by esmense on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 07:54:24 AM EST
    salary to pay some other guy $100 to pass on something written by some entirely different guy who won't even get credit (much less paid). No "thinking" involved. Just scamming.

    Do other countries have "think tanks" (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 08:20:08 AM EST
    to the extent that the US does?
    Can anyone come up with a useful contribution made by any US think tank in any political area in the last 50 years?

    I know that the former USSR did (none / 0) (#14)
    by sj on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 11:09:13 AM EST
    I once knew someone who had been part of a research think tank there.  Did some fascinating studies that didn't follow any agenda -- he just went where his brilliant mind took him, and at he end of the process wrote a research paper. That's what the term "think tank" means to me.

    Somehow I don't think members of "our" think tanks really think, although they have influence.  

    Things are tanking though...


    Lately, I am constantly reminded of a book -- (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by esmense on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 08:53:52 AM EST
    -- really a long essay in book form -- from the 1990s, Richard Sennett's "The Corrosion of Character." He was writing about the way the new, modern "flexible" workplace (with its flexible values) undermined character in the sense of loyalty, honesty, etc. compared to the older "routine" workplace that emphasized gaining experience and proving competence over time. He was talking about attitudes about work in general, not simply about the attitude of our elites, but I think it is in the behavior,failures, poorly conceived actions of our elites -- who most especially have been told "success" means getting to top at the fastest speed possible, rather than building a record of competence, and focusing on what you can get rather than what you can offer -- that the inevitable ill consequences, for all of us, have been made most clear. The attitude and mind set Sennett talks about makes cutting corners to get what you want (to succeed) seem both necessary and unremarkable. And all those cut corners and "necessary" (from the striver's point of view) dishonesty create real harm.

    You see it in the scams peddled by Wall Street, in the petty lies -- and gross distortions -- of striving politicians, in the lives lost to greed and carelessness in mines and on oil platforms, and in the spoiled umbrage, spectacular lack of modesty and disjointed demands of Tea Party "Patriots."  

    I'm not clear about (none / 0) (#2)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 11:46:34 PM EST
    whether McInnis submitted the Hobbs original article unchanged as his own writing, Fischer sent him essentially a paraphrase of the Hobbs material, which McInnis then submitted as his own writing, or McInnis (or some other "research assistant") took the original Hobbs article and rewrote it before submitting it.

    I like option 3. (none / 0) (#7)
    by observed on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 08:36:48 AM EST
    If McInnis farmed out the research, why wouldn't he pay someone else to do the writing?

    Trust me Don... (none / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 10:04:28 AM EST
    ...even if Scooter does withdraw (and the latest rumor is that he will), we still have plenty of candidates that will proudly represent the GOP as the party of "birthers, 'baggers, bimbos and blowhards" that they have become.  Norton, Buck, Maes, Sutherland--the list goes on and on.  

    For all the pearl clutching around here about the Dem's losing their shirts in this midterm, I just don't see that happening here.  

    We'll see, ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Yman on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 10:20:39 AM EST
    Note to wingnuts... (none / 0) (#11)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 10:13:38 AM EST
    ...your desperate Biden deflection in this matter comes across as exactly that.  It's not going to get any traction with the people of Colorado who have come to see Scott McInnis for exactly what he is and that's what matters.  

    The comparison to Ward Churchill is another matter, however.  Don't think that's what you had in mind though.  

    What fun. (none / 0) (#13)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 10:48:11 AM EST
    Tancredo is saying that he's out.  Scooter just posted this on his Facebook page...

    I am in it to win it. We will continue to fight for Colorado's businesses and families and will not leave this race. Stay strong!