That changed in 2000, as “plagiarism consultant” Jonathan Bailey explains:Though plagiarism had long been against most schools' ethics codes, detecting it was a challenge. In 2000, Turnitin.com was launched. Though the technology was originally designed to detect “frat file” plagiarism, a pre-internet plagiarism technique that involves storing copies of physical essays for use in later years, it was adapted to deal with internet plagiarism, as well.There are other “content similarity detection” programs out there, and oppo researchers use them every day.
In an earlier campaign cycle, oppo researchers in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee busted a Republican for plagiarism. In 2014, GOP oppo researchers decided to return the favor. They started with a universe of “targeted races” and winnowed that list down, focusing on campaigns that shared consulting teams. The NRCC oppo researchers figured the same people in those firms might be writing copy for two or more candidates, thereby increasing the possibility some of the content might be duplicated.
With that list of campaigns in hand, it became a simple matter of taking pages from candidate websites and entering them into Google. Examples of plagiarism leapt from their laptop screens and a target was identified: Staci Appel, candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd District.