Gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s (R) recently released Urban Policy Agenda is under fire from Democrats who claim the plan is both plagiarized and unfounded.
At a press conference last week, Foley released an urban policy agenda for the upcoming gubernatorial election, in which he will face off against incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy. The plan outlines how Foley intends to improve the economy, reduce crime and fix underperforming schools if he is elected in November. At the conference, Foley detailed the plan’s potential to make “our cities great again,” emphasizing that the plan will drive economic development. But some Democrats have begun questioning Foley’s agenda, claiming that he is violating state elections law by copying wording from other sources.
“It seems like Foley isn’t taking Connecticut’s cities seriously,” said Communications director of the Yale College Democrats Lily Sawyer-Kaplan ’17. “He can’t even come up with his own plan because it’s blatantly plagiarized from other sources.”
According to Foley’s spokesman Chris Cooper, the main goal of the plan is to “bring some progress to our cities.” Cooper said that the plan focuses on reducing crime and addressing deteriorating housing stocks.
Yale College Republicans President Andrea Barragan ’16 said she thinks Foley’s urban plan is what Connecticut needs in order to prosper. She said that she aligns her own views with Foley’s focus on entrepreneurship.
In a debate on Tuesday with Malloy, Foley used the question of marijuana legalization as a platform to discuss social issues in urban environments, continuing the dialogue surrounding his urban agenda.
“Drug addiction results from the fact that the economy is not functioning well in our state and particularly in our cities,” he said at the debate. “I am committed, and I have talked specifically and have a plan that I announced last week to address the problems in these cities,” he said.
Since the debate, critics have begun to question the plan’s integrity. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, the plan’s wording aligns exactly with conservative think tank articles online, most notably from the Pelican Post.
Although some Democrats have claimed that Foley’s ideas for his urban plan are not his own, he denies having plagiarized.
“It’s not plagiarism to say that we should try it here in Connecticut,” Foley said about his education policy included in the agenda — a plan to grade schools individually on an A-F basis.
In 2011, Foley founded the Connecticut Policy Institute, which according to its website is “a non-partisan, not-for-profit research organization dedicated to developing responsible, research driven public policy for Connecticut.”
Foley admitted to drawing from the CPI’s research for his Urban Policy Agenda — a decision widely criticized by Connecticut Democrats for violating state elections law. He released a statement following the criticism in which he apologized for his failure to cite the CPI.
In addition to criticizing Foley’s for plagiarizing, Democrats have been skeptical about Foley’s focus on applying free-market principles to education, as outlined in his plan.
This past Wednesday, Malloy held a news conference with the House Black and Puerto Rican caucus and Democratic Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey. The Caucus publicly endorsed Malloy, and all groups harshly denounced Foley’s urban policy agenda. Malloy criticized Foley at the conference for being “out of touch with working families.”
Malloy further criticized the education policy outlined in Foley’s urban agenda for the “dog eat dog” environment he believes it would foster, as well as for the funding cuts Foley intends to implement in public schools. Sawyer-Kaplan also noted that cutting funding would continue to hurt schools that are already underperforming.
Foley’s education plan focuses on in-district public school choice, support for teachers and an A-F school grading system.
Barragan said that even though Foley’s education platform might result in some students not “coming out as a winner,” she said the policy is overall a sound plan.
The Connecticut Gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 4.