WASHINGTON - A White House official who served as President Bush's middleman with conservatives and Christian groups resigned yesterday after admitting to plagiarism. Twenty columns he wrote for an Indiana newspaper were determined to have material copied from other sources without attribution.
Timothy Goeglein, who has worked for Bush since 2001, acknowledged that he lifted material from a Dartmouth College publication and presented it as his own work in a column about education for The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne. The newspaper took a closer look at his other columns and found many more instances of plagiarism.
"The president was disappointed to learn of the matter, and he was saddened for Tim and his family," White House press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement.
She said Goeglein had accepted responsibility and "has apologized for not upholding the standards expected by the president."
The White House sought to deal with the embarrassing situation quickly, the same day the plagiarism was reported by a blogger, Nancy Nall, a former NewsSentinel columnist.
"His behavior is not acceptable and we are disappointed in Tim's actions," said White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore. "He is offering no excuses and he agrees it was wrong."
The News-Sentinel said an internal investigation found that 20 of 38 of Goeglein's columns published in the past eight years contained portions copied from other sources without attribution. Goeglein has submitted unsolicited, or guest, columns to The NewsSentinel for more than 20 years, and he has never been paid for them, the paper said.
News-Sentinel editor Kerry Hubartt said the paper would no longer publish Goeglein's writings.
Goeglein had worked at the White House since 2001. He was a special assistant to Bush and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, serving as the administration's liaison with influential conservatives. He was a right-hand man for former strategist Karl Rove when he oversaw the public liaison office.
Accepting his resignation, the White House gave Goeglein a warm sendoff.
Perino said Bush "has long appreciated Tim's service, and he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country."
She said Goeglein helped establish Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative and his program for AIDS relief in Africa, and he also played an important role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Lawrimore said the White House press office was unaware that Goeglein was writing a column.
"He recalls that he informed someone in the White House press office earlier in the administration," she said.