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Bill Berkowitz: Goeglein Resigns Over Plagiarism

Goeglein goes down: Resigns over plagiarism scandal

By Bill Berkowitz

Bush liaison to conservative evangelicals resigns over repeatedly plagiaizing from other work

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Lee Russ, of the Watching the Watchers website pointed out that earlier this month in one of his Saturday morning addresses, President Bush "tout[ed] the quality of his nominees":

One of the most important jobs of any president is to find good men and women to lead government agencies, preside over our courts and provide vital services to the American people.
So I have nominated talented individuals for these positions. went on to remind us of the many "Bush appointees and other White House warriors who left under a cloud or face conflict-of-interest allegations" (see below for more).

Add Tim Goeglein, Bush's much celebrated but little known liaison to conservative evangelical Christians, to that list. While Claude Allen, the president's former domestic policy adviser was relieved of his duties after stealing stuff from --and making phony returns to discount department stores -- Goeglein evidently was in the word-stealing business.

Caught by a home-town blogger

On Friday, February 29, Tim Goeglein, who had been with the administration since 2001, resigned "after admitting that he repeatedly plagiarized from other writers," for his occasional guest columns for his hometown newspaper, The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiania, The New York Times reported.

The Times reported that a Fort Wayne-based blogger "found the plagiarism."

What appeared at first to be an occasional lapse in judgement, was actually Goeglein's preferred writing style. "A review by The News-Sentinel found that of the 38 columns Mr. Goeglein published since 2000, 19 included plagiarized material," The New York Times reported.

According to The News-Sentinel's editor, Kerry Hobart, Goeglein, who was "well respected here by a lot of people," would no longer have his (or whoeber else he took it from) writing appear in the paper.

According to White House spokesperson Emily Lawrimore, Goeglein, on his way out the door, "offer[ed] no excuses, and he agrees it was wrong."

Prior to coming to the White House, Goelein served as a spokesman for the 2000 presidential campaign of longtime Christian right activist Gary Bauer. When Bauer's campaign fizzled, Goelein hooked up with Karl Rove, Bush's chief politicval strategist.

Goeglein before the fall

In March 2005, intrigued by Goeglein's emergence as an administration spokesperson, I wrote a piece for titled, "Tim Goeglein: Selling Brand Bush to the Christian Right." The piece was subtitled "Young and relatively unknown, Tim Goeglein is parlaying his street cred with Christian conservatives into support for a vast array of Bush's policies."

One week after the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001 Tim Goeglein appeared on the radio program of Jay Sekulow, the legal beagle who runs the conservative American Center for Law & Justice (website). Goeglein was there to reassure Sekulow's listeners that President Bush was on job and prepared for the task at hand: He's "doing beautifully, he is uplifted, he's determined, he's resolute," Goeglein told Sekulow's listeners. He also pointed out that the president "knows his own mind, he's comfortable in is own person, he's very convicted...We've heard a lot of good and evil, a lot of talk about justice and righteousness. This is an outgrowth of his faith. This is the genuine article. This is George W. Bush, and he takes his role as Commander in Chief as seriously as any man ever has."

Fast forward three-plus-years: On March 9, in a 29-second sound bite for the Free Congress Foundation's radio program, Goeglein talked about president's "major campaign for Social Security reform," saying that the president was "eager for Social Security reform," was "tireless on this question," and was "confirmed to seeing this through successfully." A month or so earlier, Goeglein chatted with Free Congress listeners about Bush's strong support for a constitutional amendment to "protect the institution of marriage"; his commitment to building a "culture of life"; and the need for an up-or-down vote on the president's judicial appointments.

For more than four years Tim Goeglein has been reassuring Christian audiences that the president is indeed one of them and seeking their support for a broad array of issues.

Who is Tim Goeglein and why is he one of the White House's most important links to the conservative Christian community?

Goeglein's rise was quite impressive: "Nearly every morning ... [as] deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison [he met] ... along with eight White House aides from the four political offices including public liaison, intergovernmental affairs, political affairs and strategic initiatives -- with ... Rove to pound out and hone the message of the day. "It is Goeglein's job to make sure conservatives are happy, in the loop and getting their best ideas before the president and turned into laws," the Washington Post reported.

The Post pointed out that these meetings were where "Rove, Goeglein and others share thoughts on synthesizing the president's ideas, enlisting outside assistance to sell them and heading off potential fights with or among supporters on the outside. When the meeting lets out, Goeglein operates as an ambassador of sorts for Bush and Rove."

When the now disgraced Ted Haggard -- who was then in good standing with the White House -- "made his first post-election visit to the White House he stopped by and congratulated Goeglein for his effective work of bringing Christian voters to the polls."

"He is the key person that actually produced the evangelical vote in America," Haggard told the Indianapolis Star. "It was Karl Rove's initiative, but it was Tim that actually did it. When we call Tim, his office responds. He's the one evangelical leaders across America have a relationship with."

... Goeglein has won critical acclaim from other Christian Right insiders: "Tim's just flat-out the best I've ever seen at this job, and I've seen them all," Ralph Reed, Bush adviser and former head of the Christian Coalition (website), told Newsweek last September.

"My experience has been a lot of times when we have had serious questions and we needed administration backing to get them through...if we call Tim, all of a sudden things get through," Charles Colson, the convicted Watergate felon who runs Prison Fellowship Ministries (website) told the Washington Post.

After a brief bio, I closed the piece by writing:

In the coming years, Tim Goeglein will help steer Christian conservatives toward a number of Bush administration policies from the privatization of Social Security to overhauling the tax code, from a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to support for Bush's judicial appointments. If a "Supreme Court vacancy emerges," the Washington Post noted, "Goeglein will be Rove's point man dealing with the political right over who should become the next justice." Three years ago Goeglein "created an influential coalition of conservatives to pressure lawmakers to approve Bush's judges in the Senate and prepare for the next Supreme Court fight. That group has raised as much as $5 million and is planning to lead the charge for conservative justices."

There is no question that Goeglein was an up-and-coming star on the Christian right, and for now his star has been snuffed out. While I do not expect that he will be forced to enter into some reparative therapy program like Ted Haggard has, Goeglein will probably lay low for awhile and then will likelt reemerge at a conservative think tank or public policy outfit.

A reminder from

From an Associated Press 2007 story, here is a small selection of Bush Administration officials run afoul of ethical standards:

Claude Allen, who had been Bush's domestic policy adviser, pleaded guilty to theft in making phony returns at discount department stores while working at the White house. He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and fined $500
Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice

[Former] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faced (faces?) congressional investigations into his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

J. Steven Griles, an oil and gas lobbyist, became deputy Interior Secretary and then became the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, pleading guilty to obstructing justice by lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with the convicted lobbyist. Abramoff repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at Interior on behalf of Indian tribal clients.

Former White House aide, David H. Safavian, was convicted last year of lying to government investigators about his ties to Abramoff and faces a 180-month prison sentence

Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting tickets he received from Abramoff

Matteo Fontana, a Department of Education official who oversaw the student loan industry, was put on leave after disclosure that he owned at least $100,000 worth of stock in a student loan company

Eric Keroack, Bush's choice to oversee the federal family planning program, resigned from the post suddenly after the Massachusetts Medicaid office launched an investigation into his private practice. He had been medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex and contraception

Julie MacDonald, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service despite having no academic background in biology, still overrode recommendations of agency scientists about how to protect endangered species and improperly leaked internal information to private groups, the Interior Department inspector general said




Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.

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