It sure looks like this GOP Congressional candidate plagiarized her Democratic opponent

"She lifted some words, and I'm absolutely sure there's a cause and effect here," a journalism professor said

By Meaghan Ellis
Published July 18, 2021 4:00AM (EDT)
A Republican Party elephant logo pictured with the hair of US President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)
A Republican Party elephant logo pictured with the hair of US President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

A top-ranking Republican candidate in an upcoming Virginia Congressional primary election is facing stark criticism after ripping off her Democratic opponent's words.

According to The Daily Beast, Jen Kiggans' recent fundraising email has become a topic of scrutiny due to a number of the quotes included in it. The publication reports that the words were gravely similar to what was written in her Democratic opponent, Rep. Elaine Luria's (D-Va.) latest op-ed.

An example of one of the controversial phrases in the op-ed and email was based on the following:

In reference to the Chinese military and the U.S. Navy's naval ships, the two-time incumbent op-ed's noted: "Meanwhile, China is building warships at an astonishing rate. In 2010 the U.S. Navy had 68 more ships than the Chinese navy. Today, it has 63 fewer, a swing of 131 ships in 10 years."

Kiggans also included an argument with gravely similar wording in her email that read, "Meanwhile, China has been steadily growing militarily… they have more ships in their fleet than the US (by more than 60)."

English experts have offered different perspectives on the email. While some have defended Kiggans' writing, others have admitted that there is a slim chance the email was written coincidentally. Mark Algee-Hewitt, director of the Literary Lab at Stanford University a statistical linguistic analysis expert, described the email as "really bizarre."

The publication also noted that Algee-Hewitt's software "analysis pegged the probability that one of the phrases in question was accidental at one in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000." Speaking to The Daily Beast, he also noted: "For comparison's sake, that is less likely than you being elected president of the USA and winning the Powerball lottery in the same year."

He later added, "The longer a string of words is, the rarer it is," he said. "The distribution follows a power curve—so the odds of finding a repeating two-word combination (what we call a bigram) are exponentially less than finding a repeating single word; the odds of finding three words is exponentially less again, etc, etc."

Marty Steffen, chair of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, weighed in with a critical assessment of Kiggans' email. While Steffan admitted that Kiggan did lift some words, he insists there may be "cause and effect" for her doing so as he noted that the email appears to be a response to the op-ed.

"She lifted some words, and I'm absolutely sure there's a cause and effect here. The email is clearly a response to the op-ed, and tries to use those talking points against her."


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Alternet China Congress Foreign Policy Jen Kiggans Op-ed Plagarism Politics Virginia