SCOTT MCINNIS’ LUCRATIVE PLAGIARISM…. In general, when politicians stand accused of plagiarism, it’s because a candidate lifted lines from a speech, or perhaps copy and pasted text for a website issues page.

Former Rep. Scott McInnis (R), the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado this year, is taking political plagiarism to a whole new level.

Although GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis presented his “Musings on Water” for publication as original works, portions are identical and nearly identical to an essay on water written 20 years earlier by now-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs.

A Clemson University expert who reviewed McInnis’ work next to Hobbs’ essay called it a clear case of plagiarism of both words and ideas.

McInnis’ water articles were a required part of his two-year fellowship at the Hasan Family Foundation in 2005 and 2006. The former congressman, who left office in 2004, was paid $300,000 to do speaking engagements and “research and write a monthly article on water issues that can be distributed to media and organizations as well as be available on the Internet.”

Talk about wingnut welfare. The year after McInnis left Congress, he worked out a deal in which he was paid $300,000 to write a total of 150 pages — that’s an astounding $2,000 a page — about state water policy. Some of those pages, however, were “nearly reprinted verbatim” from someone else’s work. The Denver Post‘s report added that none of McInnis’ work included footnotes, endnotes, or any other forms of attribution.

McInnis blamed an aide for the incident, but that doesn’t necessarily help. For one thing, the conservative Republican specifically assured the Hasan Family Foundation, in writing, that all of his work was “original and not reprinted from any other source.” That clearly wasn’t true, and if he couldn’t back that up, McInnis shouldn’t have made the claim.

What’s more, it appears that when McInnis agreed to the $300,000 fellowship with the foundation, it was under the impression that the former congressman would work full time on its project. Instead, McInnis agreed to do the work, and then soon after also agreed to begin work at a high-powered law firm.

The foundation was “deeply disappointed by the quantity and quality of McInnis’ work” — and that was before it learned that he stole content that wasn’t his. The foundation, not surprisingly, would like its $300,000 back.

As of this afternoon, McInnis offered a private apology to the writer whose work was lifted, but not to the foundation which paid him all of that money. The AP reported that McInnis does not plan to apologize to anyone publicly.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.