CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown used language identical to earlier words by former Senator Elizabeth Dole on his website in what his office described on Thursday as an inadvertent staff oversight.
Massachusetts Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century had accused Brown, a junior Republican senator, of plagiarism on Wednesday when it said a message on his official site matched passages from a campaign speech and a separate book written years ago by former North Carolina Senator Dole.
American Bridge said that, until it was modified a few days ago, Brown's "A Message from Scott" page read nearly identically to part of a speech Dole made to launch her 2002 campaign in North Carolina and later included in her 2004 book, "Elizabeth Hanford Dole: Speaking from the Heart."
Brown's office acknowledged that his staff used Dole's site as a model for Brown's, and said the text of Dole's welcome message there was unintentionally transferred to his site about a year and a half ago.
"During construction of the site, the content on this particular page was inadvertently transferred without being rewritten," Brown spokesman John Donnelly said in a statement. "It was a staff level oversight which we regret and has been corrected."
The page had been online and not updated since around the time Brown took office, on February 4, 2010, said Marcie Kinzel, a Brown spokeswoman.
"Accusations of plagiarism are complete falsehoods," she said.
Dole spokesman Brian Nick said Dole's office had been aware that Brown used her site as a template. Brown won a special election to succeed Senator Ted Kennedy in January 2010, while Dole was ousted as Senator in 2008 when she lost a reelection bid.
"Language was used as a mistake, it was human error," Nick said. He added that Dole became aware of Brown's words having echoed her own just earlier this week.
(Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)