County Paid Big Bucks for Plagiarism-Riddled Book

'Mercury News' finds that 20% of it was copied without attribution in Santa Clara
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2022 2:50 PM CDT
County History Book's Big Problem: Plagiarism

Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith is not only “shocked” but also “very concerned” to learn that a costly book project overseen by his office is in fact riddled with plagiarized passages. According to the Mercury News, which ran the 580-page taxpayer-funded manuscript through plagiarism software, some 20% was copied “almost verbatim from Wikipedia, the History Channel ... and other sources, about half of them without footnotes.” The book’s author, Jean McCorquodale, is married to former county supervisor and state Sen. Dan McCorquodale. The book in question is a history of the county government. Smith says the project is now on hold and an internal investigation is underway.

The book's price tag is hard to calculate because it was lumped in with McCorquodale’s long-running contract with the county. In late May, prior to reviewing the manuscript, Mercury News published details about a five-year, no-bid deal worth $740,000 that McCorquodale won in 2009 to do grant writing; that contract was extended through 2018, and additional money for the book was added with unanimous approval by the five-member board. In 2019, they added another $500,000 because the project was “more difficult than anyone anticipated,” according to McCorquodale, who blew past the original deadline by about two years.

In an email response to the Mercury News, McCorquodale said the paragraphs in question were merely intended as “placeholders” and “all have long been removed or substantially rewritten, drawing from numerous sources and incorporated in the final bibliography.” However, she did not provide the revised manuscript, and nobody in the county office has seen it to date. (Read more plagiarism stories.)

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