Ex-senator’s wife accused of plagiarizing book from Wikipedia

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Ex-senator's wife accused of plagiarizing book from Wikipedia

She authored her own demise.

California author Jean McCorquodale is under investigation from authorities following accusations that she plagiarized large passages of her “high-priced government history book” from Wikipedia and other sources that she’s been working on since 2018.

“I will request our County administration to provide us with a public report on these important questions in order to get to the bottom of this,” Santa Clara County’s District 3 Supervisor Otto Lee told Mercury News.

McCorquodale, who is the wife of former Democratic state Senator Dan McCorquodale, had earned a whopping $2.45 million in grants since 2009 by writing the aforementioned history book as well as grant applications. The executives awarded her the no-bid contracts as she was “uniquely qualified to do the work.”

Jean McCorquodale accepts her commendation before the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 18, 2011, with Supervisor Ken Yeager on her left and her husband and former state senator Dan McCorquodale on her right.
Jean McCorquodale before the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 18, 2011, with Supervisor Ken Yeager on her left and her husband and former state senator Dan McCorquodale on her right.
Santa Clara County

However, Santa Clara County investigators became suspicious of the star scribe after Mercury News claimed that a fifth of her 580-age opus — which was submitted two years late in January — was lifted nearly “word for word” from Wikipedia, the History Channel, Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation website, and even, somewhat ironically, the Mercury News. Think the novel equivalent of a duplicitous English student copying their essay from Cliffnotes.

In light of the allegations, Santa Clara County executive Jeff Smith has since placed the project “on hold” pending a third-party investigation into McCorquodale’s “troublesome” manuscript, Mercury News reported.

Meanwhile, Lee said he was “extremely concerned” about the “apparent lack of oversight” regarding the alleged Wikipedia pilferer’s no-bid contracts.

“I will request our County administration to provide us with a public report on these important questions in order to get to the bottom of this," said Santa Clara County's District 3 Supervisor Otto Lee following the plagiarism allegations.
“I will request our County administration to provide us with a public report on these important questions in order to get to the bottom of this,” said Santa Clara County’s District 3 Supervisor Otto Lee following the plagiarism allegations.
Getty Images

Responding to allegations, McCorquodale has since claimed that the copy was only a rough draft.

“The paragraphs you cited were highlighted in my working copy, and all have long been removed or substantially rewritten, drawing from numerous sources and incorporated in the final bibliography,” McCorquodale said, The Independent reported. She added that the pilfered portions were merely “placeholders and were never intended to be included in the final copy.”

However, the county claims that they’ve yet to receive a final draft while McCorquodale hasn’t responded to their requests to send them one.

The sordid saga was set in motion in 2009 after the alleged book-legger was made the sole grant writer with a five-year contract ultimately worth $740,000, The Mercury News reported. In 2018, she was tasked with penning the history book, an assignment that was extended by an additional half-million the following year because the project was going slower than projected, per the county executive’s office.

Former Democratic senator Dan McCorquodale.
Former Democratic senator Dan McCorquodale.
Santa Clara Board of Supervisors

McCorquodale claims that her masterpiece was delayed because it was “more difficult than anyone anticipated” and that the coronavirus pandemic hindered her research, adding that a “substantial amount” of the money went to assistants and book design.

“This will serve as an important lesson to help us avoid these mistakes from happening in the future, enabling the County to be more fiscally accountable for spending public funds,” said Lee.

This isn’t the first time someone has been accused of ripping off Wikipedia. In April, New York City reporter Jami Floyd had 45 of her articles removed from Wnyc.org and Gothamist websites after an internal investigation revealed that parts of them were lifted verbatim from the aforementioned encyclopedia site, among other sources.

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