PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A candidate for the Rhode Island General Assembly has taken material from the political website of Jimmy Carter's grandson and posted it on his own campaign site, but the men, who are friends, said permission was given.
William O'Brien used entire passages from Jason Carter's campaign website relating to education, energy policy and job creation. Carter is running for another term in the George state Senate. O'Brien made few changes to Carter's text, except for replacing the word "Georgia" with "Rhode Island."
One paragraph that O'Brien took from Carter's website reads: "As I talk to families throughout the district, it's clear that our economic struggles remain a major concern for most. We need solutions that will have an immediate impact on our ability to attract new business and generate jobs, while also investing in the future health of our economy."
O'Brien, a North Providence Democrat running for the state House of Representatives, said he met Carter when both served in the Peace Corps in Africa more than a decade ago. He said he received Carter's permission to use material from his website two years ago, when O'Brien made an unsuccessful bid for the Legislature.
O'Brien kept the same website for his 2012 run. The site does not attribute the material to Carter. O'Brien said he has no plans to remove the material, though he said he wishes now he had written his own content.
"Looking back at it, I wish I didn't do it, but this is not plagiarism," O'Brien said. "I had 100 percent permission to use that material. There's nothing wrong with using statements that came from a friend that you agree with."
The former president's grandson confirmed that he gave O'Brien permission to use the content.
"I've known Bill for a long time," said Carter, a Democrat. "I don't think it's a big deal."
One of O'Brien's opponents, however, questioned why O'Brien couldn't come up with his own message.
"If he can't come up with his own ideas what's he going to do if he gets to the Statehouse?" said David Pellegrino, who faces O'Brien in next month's Democratic primary. "These could be great ideas. My friends have great ideas, but they're not the ones running for office."
Democrat Lance Mantia and independent Kenneth Amoriggi are also running for the seat.