SUMMIT, NJ — Republican candidate for Summit Common Council David Dietze, who is seeking the At-Large seat, has issued a statement relating to allegations that he copied — virtually verbatim — the post-primary Facebook post of Shelley Brindle, the Democratic candidate running for mayor of Westfield.
Brindle's message was posted to her campaign's Facebook page June 6 at 11:43 p.m., while Dietze's post to his campaign's Facebook page is time-stamped June 8 at 3:21 p.m. Brindle's post contains 97 words and all but five are the same in Dietze's message, which also makes near-identical use of punctuation marks such as semi-colons and exclamation points.
From a word usage standpoint, 95 percent (94.8 percent ) of the words are identical.
When contacted by TAPinto Summit, Brindle's campaign manager, Benjamin Nanna, forwarded the following statement:
“It’s unsettling that anyone, let alone a Former Board of Education President and current Republican Council Candidate would plagiarize, verbatim, so willfully. As a former Executive Vice President at HBO, and current candidate for Mayor of Westfield, I can tell you, transparency and honesty is the backbone of everything I do. Our residents and communities need authenticity from their leaders, not plagiarized posts which only foster cynicism. This is why local elections and local leadership matter, and why I’m running for Mayor. Given the divisive nature of current politics, it's refreshing to see that a Republican can align with the same ideals as Democrats.”
Dietze's campaign manager, Steven Spurr, sent TAPinto Summit the following statement:
“Our campaign has been accused of making a Facebook post that bears an eerie resemblance to another Facebook post of another campaign in another City. Our campaign team has received much advice from supporters and reviewed many, many different sources to communicate our message. Many, many drafts have been involved in all of our communications. In the rush to communicate, notes of all of our research and sources therefore are not as orderly as would be appropriate in an academic setting. For none of our team, nor the candidate, nor our supporters is the campaign their day job, and so an effort to match the slickness and thoroughness of campaigns constituting the full time job of the candidate, with paid staff and for an office that will provided compensation, is just difficult. We do not have the financial resources to have access to the same tools larger campaigns have. 

“Facebook posts are able to be edited, and frequently just starting points, templates if you will, for crafting our message as we receive further input. Facebook posts are not generally copyrighted. While we try to be as creative as possible, there are thousands of similar campaigns going on around the country, and none of our concepts and themes or feelings are unique, and I have not seen too much that is unique on others sites. I doubt any of the candidates out there claim their sentiments are original with them, and somehow no one else can have similar concepts. The general understanding is that Facebook posts are able to be shared, without the permission of the original source, and Facebook rules of crediting are murky. Photos are added and deleted. Dates and locations are changed. References to supporters are refined, expanded and in some cases reduced. Facebook users have the ability to tag other individuals, pages, or institutions, without their permission. Website addresses can be inserted, again without prior permission, and in many cases lifting text and images in the process. Pictures are always scrutinized. For example, do they contain an image that is inappropriate, for example, a government building or vehicle or someone in uniform? Are people shown truly supporters? Is it too slick, and does not reflect our personalities? We also consider other organizations of which we are part, and consider if proper disclosures have been made. We do our best to make sure everything is ethical, and even if it is does it even have the possible appearance of being unethical. All communications are constantly being updated. We are very sensitive to the input we are receiving, and will redouble our efforts to fact check every single concept and fact cited. 

This year's primary election results no doubt gave Republicans and Democrats pause. What's at stake hasn't changed though — affordability for families and seniors, continued excellence in our schools and a vibrant downtown. We are leaving no stone unturned on the campaign trail just as we would when elected to Common Council. Friends and neighbors in Summit expect no less. We appreciate your continued support, but recognize that partisans may well resort to negative campaigning on this issue and others, seemingly wasting their time and the time of others as opposed to focusing on how we can make this the best community possible. The campaign apologizes to the source and extends the same to anyone confused as a result of this error.”

The campaign for Beth Little, the Democrat who is opposing Dietze for the At-Large Council seat in the November election, issued a statement that reads, “it is disappointing, and perhaps revealing, that this is how my opponent would choose to campaign. Voters deserve candidates who are careful and thoughtful in their communications.”

The post in question has since been removed from the Dietze for Summit Council Facebook page.