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Kitty Kelley sued for alleged plagiarism

Freelance writer claims author used his work in his Bush book.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A freelance writer is suing biographer Kitty Kelley, claiming the author plagiarized his work in her new book about President Bush and his family.

“I’m trying to make a living down here as a freelance writer and these New York writers rip you off,” Glynn Wilson told the Birmingham News. The lawsuit was filed last month in Birmingham federal court against Kelley and Random House Inc.

Kelley, known for gossipy, unauthorized biographies of Frank Sinatra and Nancy Reagan, is the author of “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,” published by Doubleday, a Random House subsidiary, on Sept. 14.

The lawsuit asks that copies of the book not be sold while the lawsuit is pending. More than 700,000 copies are in print.

Katherine J. Trager, a senior vice president and general counsel for Random House, told The New York Times that the lawsuit was “meritless” and that the company was “confident that we will obtain its dismissal.”

No phone number for Kelley was immediately available. She has said that four teams of lawyers vetted her book for libel and slander.

Wilson wrote a 4,000-word article that appeared in February on an independent journalism Web site, Southerner Daily News. The article detailed Bush’s time in Alabama when he was in the National Guard in the early 1970s.

The $5 million lawsuit claims that Kelley, on pages 304 and 305 of her book, lifted passages verbatim from Wilson’s article, specifically passages about Bush’s drinking and drug use while in Alabama.

“I was surprised that so much of it was lifted so exactly,” Wilson said.

Kelley generated buzz by writing that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David while his father was president. One of Kelley’s sources making the drug claim was the president’s ex-sister-in-law, Sharon Bush.

Sharon Bush later claimed she did not make any such statement, although she has declined to take legal action.