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Plagiarism, porn raps follow Bush hire

Days after Gov. Jeb Bush fired a top official over sexual harassment allegations, his office confirmed it hired a former newspaper editorial writer who left his job after allegations of plagiarism and sexual harassment.

Lloyd Brown, 65, was hired last month as a writer on Bush's staff, just weeks after he retired as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. His departure came after the newspaper said it had found instances of plagiarism in some editorials Brown wrote.

The review was spurred by an October article in Folio Weekly, a Jacksonville newspaper, written by a former Times-Union editorial writer, Billee Bussard.

In the article, "Porn, Hypocrisy, Plagiarism: The Dark Side of Jacksonville's Daily," Bussard wrote that Brown viewed Internet pornography in the paper's office and had sexual conversations on the telephone while doing so.

Bussard's account also described a letter Brown signed in 1998 in response to her complaints, in which he acknowledged "his addiction to the Internet and possession of pornography."

The governor's office hired Brown Dec. 20, at a salary of $80,000, to write speeches, letters to editors and other material for Bush. He is the second-highest paid employee in the governor's communications shop, second only to communications director Alia Faraj, who earns $90,000. Bush's press secretary and other speechwriter earn $70,000 and $71,000, respectively.

Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre said Bush's firing Wednesday of Secretary of Elder Affairs Terry White signaled Bush's distaste for sexual harassment. He said Bush has faith in Brown.

The governor's office was aware of the article claiming Brown had viewed pornography in the Times-Union office.

"These were accusations that were made more than six years ago," DiPietre said Friday. "The newspaper did their own internal investigation. And the fact that Lloyd continued to work there for six more years, I think, explains that the allegations were baseless."

DiPietre said Brown told the governor's office he had been addicted to the Internet and that the pornography in question was from unsolicited electronic mail that he promptly deleted. "I think it's unfortunate that that could mar a career that spanned 47 years at one company," DiPietre said.

DiPietre said the administration was aware of the plagiarism allegations. He later said there was no way to tell whether the editorials in question were written by Brown or by other staffers.

Brown declined comment Friday, directing all questions to DiPietre.

Times staff writer Joni James contributed to this report.

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