President Bush’s liaison to the Religious Right resigned Friday after admitting that he plagiarized articles he wrote for his hometown newspaper.Tim Goeglein, special assistant to the president and deputy director of public liaison for the White House, acknowledged that he lifted material from a Dartmouth College publication without attribution in a column for the News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind. The newspaper, which has used Goeglein’s guest columns since 1985, said 20 of his 38 columns published since 2000 included plagiarism.
The newspaper said it would not be using any more columns by Goeglein. “If you can’t trust the faith-based assistant to the president, who can you trust?” Editorial Page Editor Leo Morris was quoted as saying.
The White House said Goeglein took responsibility for his action and apologized for not upholding standards of the president. A statement from the White House press secretary said Bush “has long appreciated Tim’s service, and he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country.”
Goeglein, who had worked for the president since 2001, worked closely with former White House aid Karl Rove to reach out to evangelical Christians. He helped establish the president’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative and played a key role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Goeglein was a fixture at annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention, representing the White House to introduce video hookups with the president. He spoke at Jerry Falwell’s funeral last May and at a celebration honoring past SBC president Adrian Rogers at his retirement in 2005.
Goeglein, 44, began his political career working for former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. He later worked for Vice President Dan Quayle. In 2000 he was a spokesman for the presidential campaign of Gary Bauer. Rove enlisted him as an aide during Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.
A 2004 New York Times described Goeglein as “Mr. Rove’s legman on the right.” A 2005 column by Bill Berkowitz credited Goeglein with “parlaying his street cred with Christian conservatives into support for a vast array of Bush’s policies.”
Goeglein, a member of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, apologized in an e-mail to former Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart, from whom he picked up material in an essay about education and presented it as his own. “There are no excuses. I am entirely at fault, and you have my sincerest apology,” he said in his e-mail to Hart. “I pray you will forgive me.”
He also sent multiple e-mails to The New-Sentinel. “I am more apologetic that you know and from my heart,” he wrote to the editorial page editor. “Please know how deeply sorry I am.”
News of the plagiarism scandal first surfaced in a blog by Nancy Nall, a former News-Sentinel columnist, who said she Googled a phrase in one of Goeglein’s column because she was curious about it. Nall admitted she has “had a lot of fun at Tim Goeglein’s expense over the last few months” but said she didn’t wish him any harm.
An internal investigation by the newspaper found plagiarized material from the Washington Post, New York Sun, New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, National Review and other publications in columns by Goeglein since 2000. The newspaper said it was continuing to investigate columns he wrote earlier than 2000.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
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