U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik. File photo

Stefanik accuses opponent Cobb of plagiarism

A Tuesday morning tweet sent by Rep. Elise M. Stefanik’s Democratic challenger Tedra L. Cobb has prompted the incumbent to accuse Cobb of plagiarizing her positions on veterans issues.

Stefanik said the Cobb campaign announced their veterans plan on Tuesday, which pointed to one piece of legislation, the Military Family Stability Act. That legislation was initially introduced to the House by Stefanik in January 2017, but was never voted on. Stefanik instead added language from the bill into the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act while it passed through the House Armed Services Committee, which she is a member of. That bill was passed and signed into law in December 2017.

On Tuesday morning, Cobb sent a tweet accusing Stefanik of ignoring the issue of Russian bounties on American soldiers, and included a link to her website’s page on military and veterans issues. This is what Stefanik interpreted as an announcement of a new veterans’ plan.

The Cobb campaign webpage on military and veterans issues, which was published on March 29, 2018, includes a line expressing support for “legislation such as the Military Family Stability Act.”

“My opponent released a veterans plan that actually copies and steals legislation, not only that I produced, but that I passed and it was signed into law as part of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act,” Stefanik said during a press call Tuesday. “This is a stunning example of intellectual theft and plagiarism, and my opponent should apologize.”

The definition of plagiarism, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “to steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one’s own.” On its webpage, the Cobb campaign does not claim to have come up with the Military Family Stability Act, but expresses support for “legislation such as” the act.

During Tuesday’s press call, Stefanik repeatedly suggested the two-year-old Cobb webpage was a brand new plan to address military and veterans issues, and suggested had Cobb included that Stefanik introduced the initial bill, she would have a different view of the issue.

“It would’ve been very different if it said, ‘I support Congresswoman Stefanik’s bill,’ but they didn’t say that, they announced it as part of Tedra Cobb’s plan for veterans,” she said.

In a series of releases sent Tuesday afternoon, the Stefanik campaign highlighted a number of positions from Cobb’s veterans page, and decried every instance when a Cobb campaign position intertwined with legislation and programs that Stefanik has voted on or supported in the past.

Where Cobb’s webpage states veterans face issues ranging from substance abuse to unemployment to unemployment, the Stefanik campaign highlighted bills addressing veteran suicide, substance abuse and homelessness the congresswoman introduced or co-sponsored.

Where Cobb’s webpage states federal education grants and scholarships for soldiers, veterans and their dependents should be sustainably funded, the Stefanik campaign highlighted legislation that Stefanik introduced or co-sponsored relating to education for soldiers and veterans.

Where Cobb’s webpage states that peer-to-peer mentoring and counseling for veterans should be expanded, the Stefanik campaign highlighted a number of bills that have passed the House, some of which the Congresswoman cosponsored.

Only two bills introduced specifically by Stefanik have been signed into law, neither relates to any of the issues the congresswoman’s campaign raised on Tuesday.

Gabbie Hart, campaign manager for the Cobb campaign, issued a statement in response to Stefanik and her campaign’s claims.

“Elise Stefanik knew that the administration ignored the bounties on our soldiers and said nothing. How dare she ever criticize anyone on national security,” Hart said. “This outright lie is a desperate attempt to deflect from her unconscionable decision to put her allegiance to this President ahead of her duty to protect our troops. Tedra supports making it easier for military families to relocate, which she has continually stated since the 2018 campaign. This is a distraction; don’t fall for it.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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