WASHINGTON – Voters sometimes say that politicians have just plain run out of ideas. And by the looks of his website, that might just be the case with Max Della Pia, the Democrat who's likely to challenge Rep. Tom Reed, a Corning Republican, this fall.
For example, Della Pia's website says he "knows, first-hand, how hard it is to start a small business, grow a company, meet a payroll, and balance budgets." And the Ossoff website says Ossoff "knows what it means to grow a company, meet a payroll, and balance budgets."
Similarly, and in every sense of that word, Della Pia's website says: "Max will defend equal pay for equal work and fight any effort to allow wage discrimination against women or minorities." And the Ossoff website says: "Jon will defend equal pay for equal work and fight any effort to allow wage discrimination against women or minorities."
Della Pia and Ossoff speak in tandem on health care, too.
"It’s time to move beyond the tired, partisan debate over health care policy, agree on some basic principles, and solve problems," Della Pia's website says.
Ossoff couldn't agree more.
"It’s time to move beyond the tired, partisan debate over health care policy, agree on some basic principles, and solve problems," his website said.
Those are just some of nearly 20 passages of Della Pia's website that echo Ossoff's. The portions of Della Pia's website on civil liberties and civil rights, U.S.-Israel relations, women's health, national security, seniors, criminal justice and anti-corruption also all include passages that appear to be copied from the Ossoff website.
Asked for an explanation, Della Pia's spokeswoman blamed the apparent cut-and-paste authorship of his website on a volunteer who put together the prose in the early part of the candidate's campaign.
"Max was responsible for writing his biography and a 'letter to the voters,' while the volunteer wrote the policy sections of the website," said the spokeswoman, Aubrey Stuber. "While writing several of the sections, we now know that the volunteers sampled heavily from Jon Ossoff’s campaign website."
Stuber, who declined to name the volunteer, said Della Pia read the passages of the website to make sure they echoed his beliefs, but had no idea they were lifted from the website of another candidate.
"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," Stuber said. "However, voters can be confident that the views expressed on the website are consistent with Max’s stances on the issues."
Stuber said the cut-and-paste passages of Della Pia's website would be removed and rewritten starting Friday afternoon. But none of that was good enough for Nicholas Weinstein, Reed's campaign manager.
"The extent of Max Della Pia's dishonesty is surprising when he has portrayed himself as an independent thinker and candidate of integrity," said Weinstein. "How can the voters believe anything he says when his platform was stolen word for word from another candidate?"
Della Pia, 63, is a retired Air Force brigadier general and lawyer from Owego who holds a narrow lead of about 15 votes over Tracy Mitrano of Penn Yan in a five-way Democratic primary in the Southern Tier's 23rd district. The race is so close that it won't be settled until absentee ballots are counted next week.
Months earlier, the Della Pia campaign took a crack at an ethics platform on its website.
"In this era of 'fake news' and 'alternative facts,' Max will back his claims with real evidence and call out politicians who lie for short-term gain."
Meantime, Ossoff's website said: "In this era of 'fake news' and 'alternative facts,' we need leaders who will back their claims with real evidence and call out politicians who lie for short-term gain."
The anti-corruption portion of Della Pia's website did not, however, mention anything about plagiarism.
But then again, neither did Ossoff's.