Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton has once again made headlines – this time for allegedly plagiarizing another author. Christopher Janes Kimberly, a little-known author from New York, is suing Chelsea for $150,000 in damages. He claims her newest release; She Persisted, is a rip-off of his A Heart is the Part That Makes Boys And Girls Smart. There’s a problem though – Mr. Kimberly’s book was never published.
Kimberly claims he pitched his story to the president of Penguin Young Readers US, Jennifer Loja, in May 2013, via Facebook, but never heard back from them. He is suing the publishing house as well, claiming they used his story idea and passed it on to Clinton.
According to Kimberly, his book features fifteen stories and quotes from historical and prominent female figures such as Nellie Bly, Hellen Keller and Harriet Tubman. Clinton’s book tells the stories of thirteen historical female figures, including quotes. Kimberly’s lawsuit claims Clinton used three of the same female examples he used in his book.
“I did months of painstaking research on my book,” Kimberly said in an interview with the New York Post. “Her version looks like a ninth-grade homework assignment. I am in disbelief.” According to The Blaze, the “Quotable Questionnaire” section in Kimberly’s book pitch featured fifteen quotes while a very similar section in Clinton’s book features thirteen.
In April, Kimberly issued Clinton a cease and desist order, which went ignored. Clinton’s book was published on May 30 and is currently number one on the New York Times bestseller list for illustrated children’s books after only five weeks. Aside from the $150,000 in damages Kimberly is seeking in his lawsuit, he is also requesting a portion of the sales profits.
In a pre-book statement given in March, Clinton said she “wrote this book for everyone who’s ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down — for everyone who’s ever been made to feel less than.” Her book, aimed at children ages four through eight, is meant to inspire children, especially girls, to have the strength and courage needed to succeed.
The 13 women in ‘She Persisted’ all overcame adversity to help shape our country — sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. With this book, I want to send a message to young readers around the country — and the world — that persistence is power.
Clinton’s title, “She Persisted,” is borrowed from the now famous catchphrase given by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a debate in February. Sen. Elizabeth Warren objected to the confirmation of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions and was reportedly silenced by the Republicans. McConnell explained the reason for silencing the senator by saying, “Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” And thus, Clinton’s children’s book had a title and the feminists united with the catchphrase depicted on memes exploding on Facebook.
Chelsea isn’t the only Clinton accused of plagiarism. Her mother, the former Democratic presidential candidate, has taken heat for using quotes without citing the sources. Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices – for which she received a $14 million advance – gained a lot of attention for recycling speeches and testimonies. Critics have pointed out numerous instances where she has copied her own material as well as that of others.
Did Chelsea follow in her mother’s footsteps, or is this just another citizen looking for a way to get his fifteen minutes of fame – never mind a nice, fat settlement? It would be difficult to prove that the Penguin Young Readers / Penguin Publishing House knowingly took his book idea and gave it to Clinton to rewrite and publish. Besides, why would anyone submit a book idea via Facebook? Wouldn’t the better way – and more legitimate – be to submit via the publisher’s website on a form made for submissions? Even the age-old tradition of formally submitting a manuscript direct to the publisher via snail mail and a roll of stamps would have been better than Facebook.
The claim that Clinton used three of the same historical female figures, their stories, and quotes in her book that Kimberley used in his is a weak argument for plagiarism. Now, if she had used all fifteen of his ideas using the same quotes with identical stories, then this lawsuit might have some merit.
Kimberly also claims that his book has been offered for ‘free to the public’ since 2014 for educational purposes. After doing a Google search – first for the title of Kimberly’s book and then by his name – no references were found other than page after page of articles about this lawsuit.
This is not the first book Clinton has written and had published. It’s Your World was released in 2015. It was aimed at youngsters interested in civic activism. She also collaborated with Devi Sridhar on a scholarly work published in February this year titled “Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why?” While it may be difficult to see dull and drab Chelsea as coming up with any interesting ideas on her own, it is just as doubtful that Kimberly’s lawsuit has any legal validity.