Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks to the media following a campaign event at the Sanctuary Pub on June 11, 2015 in Iowa City, Iowa.
Scott Olson—2015 Getty Images
By Zeke J Miller
July 9, 2015

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sought to make waves Thursday with a detailed policy white paper on financial regulation. Instead, he earned laughs for footnote that cited a satirical news site.

In the document, “Protecting the American Dream From Another Wall Street Crash,” O’Malley meant to highlight the revolving door between government and lucrative jobs on Wall Street — a well-documented concern of the progressives he is courting.

But the long-shot Democratic presidential candidate sourced a fake news story from September 2014 published on the fake news website The Daily Currant headlined “Eric Holder Takes $77 Million Job With JPMorgan Chase,” to make the case. In fact, Holder was still in office through early this year, as his successor, Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s confirmation was held up. This week it was announced that the former Attorney General returned to his former law firm, Covington & Burling.

The unfortunate footnote—the first of the document’s 37—was first spotted by Bloomberg’s Phil Mattingly shortly after the document was posted.

“Errant footnotes are just a small side effect of putting out the most comprehensive policy paper of any 2016’er on Wall Street,” said O’Malley spokeswoman Lis Smith in a statement. The document accurately references that Obama selections to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, and Treasury Department, Secretary Jack Lew, had ties to financial firms before taking their current positions.

To be sure, the error has little bearing on the substance of O’Malley’s argument, which he hopes will appeal to those in his party’s base who are skeptical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and her husband’s role in deregulating the financial markets during his presidency. But it does distract from his case, at a time when O’Malley is struggling to gain notice from the electorate and the news media, as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has emerged as the leading liberal challenger to Clinton.

The white paper, which has since been updated to fix the footnote without correction, indicated that the two-term Maryland governor would aim to reinstate a barrier on commercial and investment banking practices that was abolished in 1999. O’Malley also calls for a transaction tax on high-frequency stock trading and increasing the budgets and investigations divisions of Wall Street regulators.

The Daily Currant, a more deadpan version of The Onion, has previously fooled several news outlets. The Washington Post cited a satirical story about Sarah Palin from the website in 2013 and a Breitbart.com columnist reported a Daily Currant story about Paul Krugman going bankrupt.

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