WASHINGTON — Max Della Pia’s campaign is taking some heat after it was discovered that portions of his write ups on policies were plagiarized from a former Democratic candidate’s website.

On Saturday, the Buffalo News reported that about 20 passages of Della Pia’s website were similar to the website of Jon Ossoff, a Democrat who ran for Congress last year in a special election in Georgia. Ossoff ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel, but it was a close race that garnered a lot of public attention. Many passages were taken word for word from Ossoff’s site, the Buffalo News reported.

As of Monday morning, all of the policy sections of Della Pia’s website are inaccessible.

In one example, the Buffalo News found in a section regarding health care on Della Pia’s site that stated: “It’s time to move beyond the tired, partisan debate over health care policy, agree on some basic principles, and solve problems.” The message can still be found word for word on Ossoff’s website.

In the recent Democratic primary, Della Pia and Tracy Mitrano were separated by only 26 votes. Absentee and affidavit ballots are being counted Monday and will decide the outcome. The unofficial results released after polls closed Tuesday showed Della Pia was favored in Tompkins County.

In a brief interview Monday, Aubrey Stuber, campaign manager for Della Pia, said they were not aware of the plagiarism until this weekend. A statement she released later elaborated that a volunteer writing several sections “sampled heavily from Jon Ossoff’s campaign website.” The volunteer was not named.

Here is the account from Stuber:

“Early in the campaign, prior to the arrival of any paid staff, Max and one of his volunteers worked to put the website together. During that process, Max was responsible for writing his biography and a ‘letter to the voters’, while the volunteer wrote the policy sections of the website. While writing several of the sections, we now know that the volunteers sampled heavily from Jon Ossoff’s campaign website. These sections were then given to Max to read in order to ensure that they reflected his beliefs and priorities. As a result, while Max absolutely stands by the policies and beliefs expressed on the website, he was not aware that the language had been taken from another campaign. It was a mistake that the campaign didn’t ensure the language provided by that volunteer was checked for originality, and one for which we take full responsibility. However, voters can be confident that the views expressed on the website are consistent with Max’s stances on the issues. These sections of the site have been taken down in order to rework the language. Importantly, the message within these sections will not change.”

Della Pia said in a statement that he takes responsibility for the mistake.

“I have recently learned, along with many of you, that one of my volunteers assisting with the website, a novice to politics, made a mistake for which I take full responsibility,” Della Pia stated. “Since Congressman Reed can’t stand on his record, he shamefully makes the error of an enthusiastic volunteer a focus of his attacks against me. If all the ballots are counted and I maintain the lead, we will focus on what really matters in this race — our Congressman’s failure to represent, protect and speak for the men, women, and children of the Southern Tier.”

Featured image: Max Della Pia (left). (Photo provided by the Max Della Pia Campaign)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.