Adam Coker, a Democratic candidate for the 13th Congressional District, and his former policy advisor have acknowledged that major portions of the candidate’s policy positions were plagiarized from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Tyler Hogan, Coker’s policy advisor, worked for the Clinton campaign from May 2015 to early May of this month, when he joined Coker’s campaign. He said in an interview with Triad City Beat today that he had a hand in writing the policy positions for the Clinton campaign, after which he brought them to the Coker campaign.
“They were already written on a much larger scale,” he said of his work with the Clinton campaign. “Our job in the Washington office was to boil them down.”
Coker said he was not aware that the policy positions on his campaign website were lifted from the Hillary Clinton campaign, adding that he’s never even looked at the likely Democratic nominee’s website.
“Wow, this is pretty bad, man,” Coker said, when shown a side-by-side comparison of policy positions for the two campaigns.
An opposition research paper provided to Triad City Beat shows 13 different instances where material from the Clinton campaign was extensively copied in policy positions posted on the Coker campaign’s website, on numerous issues, including criminal justice reform, women’s rights, veterans, and Social Security and Medicare. A position statement by the Coker campaign on mental health also copied wholesale from an August 2015 press release by Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican lawmaker from Louisiana.
As an example of the copied material, the Clinton campaign’s policy statement on criminal justice reform states, “Providing federal matching funds to make body cameras available to every police officer to increase transparency and accountability on both sides of the lens. Promoting oversight and accountability in use of controlled equipment by limiting the transfer of military equipment by the federal government to local law enforcement, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency by agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.”
The policy statement on the Coker campaign website read until around noon today: “I will support legislation that provides federal matching funds to make body cameras available to every police officer to increase transparency and accountability on both sides of the lens, promote oversight and accountability in use of controlled equipment by limiting the transfer of military equipment by the federal government to local law enforcement, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency by agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.”
“It seems to me pretty clear,” Coker responded when asked if he would describe that matter as plagiarism.
Less than an hour after being confronted with the plagiarized material, Coker called Triad City Beat to confirm that the material has been removed from his website and to say that Hogan is no longer working with his campaign.
Initially, Hogan partially defended his actions.
“It’s all about the ideas,” he said. “It’s a free flow of ideas. We mentioned specific bills like the mental health directive, and the Lilly Ledbetter act when we talk about fair pay. If there’s a legitimate concern, if there’s a conflict, there’s no problem with rewriting and rewording everything. I can do that today. It’s completely unintentional.
“I take complete responsibility,” he added.
Coker interjected, “It’s my ultimate responsibility for not double checking.”
He added that he and his wife read the policy statements submitted by Hogan, and signed off on them.
Coker received the endorsement of Replacements Limited PAC, a committee that advocates for the LGBTQ community in a crowded and competitive Democratic primary that also includes former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis, Greensboro developer Bob Isner, Mazie Ferguson and Kevin Griffin. Coker said he received the Replacements Limited Endorsement prior to the plagiarized policy positions being posted on his website.
“This is a shoe-string operation,” Coker said. “I had what I thought was a person of high talent that had an amazing grasp of policy. I’m shocked, and it’s my fault.”
While reiterating that he takes full responsibility for the lapse, Hogan said, “It’s always tough when you work for one organization and you absorb and help craft things, and it bleeds out into your work for another organization. It’s obviously my fault.”