SPRINGFIELD — Charges of plagiarism dogged Democrat Ann Callis' campaign for Congress for about six hours Monday until a staffer running a campaign in Iowa cleared the former judge from Edwardsville.
Callis, vying to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville in Illinois' 13th Congressional District, was accused by Illinois Republican Party Chairman Jack Dorgan Monday morning of pilfering lines for her campaign website from Iowa Democrat Staci Appel.
By mid-afternoon, Appel campaign manager Ben Miller said it was his campaign that copied the material.
"The language identified on that page was intended to be a temporary placeholder and was inadvertently published," Miller said in an email. "We removed the copy when it was brought to our attention."
A check of the Ackland Democrat's website Monday showed access to the contested information was blocked.
A comparison of the websites before Appel's was changed showed some nearly identically phrased positions.
On the issue of women's health, for example, Appel's site said, "She believes that insurance companies should provide coverage for contraception and that women should have access to emergency contraception."
Callis' website says, "She believes that insurance companies should provide coverage for contraception and that women should have access to emergency contraception."
The similarity had Dorgan jeering Callis, saying she had to "steal" her ideas in her bid to put the district in Democratic hands.
Callis campaign manager Marshall Cohen said Callis posted her positions on issues online in August, well before Appel.
"The Illinois Republican attacks are factually inaccurate and clearly show how desperate the political operatives are to distract voters from Rodney Davis' awful record in Congress," Cohen said in an emailed statement. "The Callis website content was posted weeks before the Appel campaign's site even went live. By firing false attacks and lying just to grab headlines, it is clear Rodney Davis and his allies are playing political games instead of focusing on helping families in Illinois."
Callis won a three-way primary battle for the right to take on freshman Davis in a district that stretches from Champaign-Urbana to Madison County and includes all or parts of Decatur, Bloomington and Litchfield.
Appel is seeking to represent Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, which covers southwest Iowa.
Both have the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.