Maybe Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Rogan should just dump the Web sites
he’s established, one each for his office and his reelection campaign.
They cause him a lot of headaches.
That’s right, yet another faux pas has reared its ugly head, forcing
changes to minimize damage.
Recent months have seen a series of minor embarrassments, including
endorsements listed on the campaign site from people who haven’t yet
endorsed him, and others who say they won’t. Grumpy constituents
complained to me that e-mail messages sent through either of Rogan’s Web
sites get no response. My own test messages, using e-mail addresses other
than the one published at the end of this column, were never
Those gripes led to a more significant scandal, indications someone
working for Rogan’s campaign hacked into the campaign site of his
opponent in the upcoming congressional race, Democratic State Senator
Rogan’s staff vehemently denied that, but admitted having and using a
password to gain unauthorized access to nonpublic materials on Schiff’s
The latest gaff I’ve tumbled across is especially surprising given
Rogan’s seat on the house judiciary committee. That powerful seat, and
his prominence on related subcommittees, has Rogan at ground zero in
debates over copyright issues. That so many media outlets are
headquartered in Rogan’s district and are intensely interested in seeing
intellectual property rights protected was the rationale for Rogan’s
appointment. He even won recent attention with a bill to prohibit
“cyber-squatting,” computer pirates who mislead the public and turn a
profit by infringing on copyrights and trademarks, or by using names that
Given all that, I was surprised to see Rogan’s congressional Web site
offering news releases to describe his activities, though some were
actually copyrighted newspaper articles. They were reproduced without
permission, and without crediting the authors. For example, Rogan offered
browsers a “press release” titled “Do-nothing Congress Doesn’t Apply to
It described efforts by Californians in Congress, including Rogan.
Like all materials on the taxpayer-paid site, at the bottom was the
notice, “Copyright 1999, James E. Rogan.”
But the story first appeared in The Los Angeles Times on July 18, and
was written by Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Simon. Like every
edition of The Los Angeles Times, it was published with the notice,
“Copyright 1999/The Times Mirror Company.” Times Mirror lawyers have
confirmed Rogan did not ask permission to use the story, and his use
infringed on the newspaper’s copyright.
Once I began looking into releases that were actually copyrighted
articles, The Los Angeles Times story and others posted on Rogan’s Web
site for months suddenly vanished. They were replaced by actual news
Let’s not be silly and pretend Rogan sat at a keyboard and deviously
plagiarized the work of newspaper reporters, fiendishly plotting to deny
them credit for their work. Let’s not even imply a staffer was so
nefarious. But when the materials were prepared for Rogan’s site, someone
had to delete the names of authors and publications. It also required
either deleting or ignoring copyrights. Moreover, Rogan’s copyright was
then attached to materials he did not produce.
As Rogan has reason to know better than almost anyone in the entire
United States, dismissive attitudes toward copyrights outrage those who
demand meaningful protection for their products. I could fuss about the
man who is supposed to protect us being part of the problem. But my heart
wouldn’t be in it. Maybe even I’m too casual about the gaff, but I see
the episode in simpler terms.
To me it’s another in a series of Rogan advertising moral indignation,
demanding we uphold certain standards, while he and his cavalierly flout
those very standards. Typically, each time he’s caught, Rogan and his
supporters ignore the deed, instead crabbing about the motives of those
pointing out the deed. I admit I don’t get it.
Voters make choices on ideology, and I waste no space debating those.
But I’m confounded by Rogan’s knack for disregarding pious standards he
sets himself, a pattern that sees him mentioned here again and again
while others -- his campaign opponent, for example -- are rarely
In response, partisans demand to know why I don’t write about Schiff
being a Democrat, or that unions support him -- or many other issues I
put under the heading of “ideological debates.” I don’t write about
ideological views, except perhaps when a pol claims one, then makes a
vote that appears to contradict that position.
I write about Rogan when he keeps repeating his pattern. He’s not a
passionate activist on one issue who’s disdainful of some other I find
important. Instead, he establishes expertise in and speaks out
righteously on Web site hackers, or taxpayer-paid official literature
advancing a campaign, or the sanctity of copyrights. Then, his campaign
hacks into an opponent’s Web site, his official literature is thinly
disguised (and misleading) campaign material, and he infringes on
As soon as Schiff publicly condemns one thing, then turns around and
does exactly that, I’ll eagerly write about it and we’ll at last have
that which some call balance. But if Rogan denounces nose rings this
morning, I’d expect to see him wearing one by dinner time. And anyone
mentioning the contradiction can expect passionate speculation as to
their partisan motives for noticing, and face questions on why there’s no
expose about Schiff’s votes backing a Democratic agenda. Huh?
Over the years many candidates have asked my permission to reprint
columns, including council members, activists, and even Rogan’s opponent,
Schiff. With conditions, like requirements that excerpts appear in
context, I’ve given permission to all. But being asked makes all the
difference. Not just as a matter of law, though the newspaper’s lawyers
and my own surely want you to know that’s critically important. It’s also
a basic courtesy.
I’m not shocked Rogan has never used or asked to use one of my
columns, though I have written complimentary words about him. And Schiff
has never asked to reprint columns where I criticized Schiff. But just in
case, I hereby give Rogan permission to reprint this column. I only ask
him to spell the author’s name correctly. It does start with R-o-g, but
ends with e-r-s, not a-n.
Will Rogers’ column appears in every edition of the Leader. He can be
reached 24 hours a day at 241-4141 voice mail ext. 906, or by e-mail at
WillColumn@aol.com. Copyright 1999.