Russell Fagg Plagiarized, Resigned from Montana Law Review

Former District Judge Russell Fagg gives introductory remarks during a U.S. Senate debate for Republican candidates on Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Bozeman, Montana. Fagg is one of four candidates competing for the GOP nomination in the June 5 primary elections and the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. …
AP Photo/Matt Volz

Former judge Russell Fagg, who is running for the Montana Senate Republican primary, admitted to plagiarizing while on the Montana Law Review in 1984, which prompted him to resign.

Fagg wrote an op-ed in the Montana Billings Gazette in 2017, in which he admitted to plagiarizing an article while serving on the Montana Law Review.

The former judge wrote:

In 1984, I wrote onto the Montana Law Review while in law school, something I was proud of. While then writing a case note (a summary of a case), I did not use quotation marks properly around the author’s writing. The transgression was a small part of the article, but technically I plagiarized.

Fagg also faces two federal complaints regarding alleged unethical behavior.

The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Fagg for submitting a financial disclosure report with several errors and omissions, which included a failure to disclose his private jet.

ADFL’s Brad Woodhouse said, “Russell Fagg has repeatedly tried to keep Montanans in the dark about his finances and his campaign for Senate. Voters deserve transparency in this election and Fagg should stop trying to deceive the people he’s trying to represent.”

The ADLF also alleged that Fagg unethically attempted to raise money while serving as a judge.

Other Montana politicians have faced steep political consequences for plagiarizing their academic and legal work.

In 2014, then-Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) dropped his bid for reelection after reports revealed that he plagiarized a paper he submitted for a master’s degree for the U.S. Army War College. The Army War College rescinded Walsh’s master’s degree after the scandal emerged.

Fagg has also faced political backlash over his support for an Internet sales tax. In February, Fagg admitted that he would support an Internet sales tax, and then backtracked a month later.

The former judge said, “To answer your question directly, yes I would support an online sales tax.”

“I actually did not say I would support an internet tax,” Fagg said a month later.

Fagg trails in the polls compared to rancher and state auditor Matt Rosendale. Forty-nine percent of Montana Republican primary voters describe Rosendale as “very conservative.”

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) have endorsed Rosendale for the Montana Senate Republican primary.

Cruz wrote in an op-ed in the Flathead Beacon that we need “strong leaders like Matt Rosendale” who will defend the Constitution.

Sen. Paul wrote an op-ed in May that Rosendale is a “fearless conservative leader.”


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