One section of the website for Maryland House of Delegates candidate Aisha Khan, a Democrat running to represent Baltimore County, describes her as a felony narcotics prosecutor devoted to getting opioids off the streets.

The problem is — she isn’t one.

That biographical information and descriptions of her priorities appear to be lifted word-for-word from the campaign website of state Delegate Dalya Attar, who represents a Baltimore City district adjacent to the one Khan is vying to lead.

Khan’s website not only describes Attar’s background and platform on education, safety, quality of life and the opioid epidemic as her own, it also mistakenly features a promise to advocate for District 41, Attar’s district, not District 44B, the one Khan is running to represent.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Aisha Khan believes it is critical that District 41 has a strong advocate in Annapolis,” Khan’s website states. “She is not afraid to fight for more state funding for our communities, which will give our families more opportunities and choices.”

A voter will find the exact same language on Attar’s website.

In all, nearly 500 words of text featured in the top issues section of Khan’s website mirror Attar’s.

In a text message Friday, Khan said that a “suspicious character” has changed the site.

“Website content was changed without my team knowledge & permission. They are working to resolve the issue,” she wrote. “I think it’s a setup but as of today my team is working to resolve any issues. I have replaced my social media team with new volunteers to avoid any issues.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Khan did not respond to follow-up questions about how the site was changed. The language has been on the site since at least Dec. 24, 2021, according to The Wayback Machine internet archive.

Screen grab from Aisha Khan's campaign website on July 15.
Screen grab from Aisha Khan's campaign website on July 15. (John O'Connor)

Khan’s site was updated Friday afternoon. The duplicated text was gone and the only thing that remained was a new message: “WE WILL BE BACK SHORTLY!”

Reached by phone Thursday while campaigning on the final day of early voting, Attar, 31, said unequivocally that “plagiarism is wrong” but that she wouldn’t comment further until she had a chance to review the similarities between Khan’s campaign website and her own.

“This was just brought to my attention,” Attar said. “I’m focused on my own election.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Khan, 38, is an owner and operator of child care centers in Catonsville and Woodlawn and a member of the Baltimore County Democratic State Central Committee. A different section of her campaign website features some of those details. She first ran to represent District 44B in 2018 but lost.

Democratic Del. Sheila Ruth, who Republican Gov. Larry Hogan appointed to represent District 44B in 2020 after her predecessor became a state senator, called the apparent plagiarism an example of “carelessness” that speaks to the kind of lawmaker Khan would be if she got elected.

“Whether she did this herself or it’s something someone did for her,” said Ruth, 58, trailing off. “I would never have something posted under my name without reviewing it first.”

Aletheia McCaskill, 51, another one of Khan’s opponents, said she first noticed similarities between Khan’s website and Attar’s in January while researching her competition in next week’s primary. She said she asked two of her friends to alert Khan. “I wanted to give her the opportunity to fix it and make it right.”

But the plagiarized language never changed.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“She is running off someone else’s record and trying to take credit,” said McCaskill, who also runs a day care in the district. “It’s just fraudulent.”

Cribbing another candidate’s platform means Khan’s vision for public office isn’t tailored to her own constituents, said Patrick Cusack, 34, who is also running to represent District 44B. Attar’s Baltimore City district may share a border with District 44B, but their needs are distinct. “If you’re copying another representative’s words, you’re not trying to help the people, you’re trying to help yourself,” Cusack added.

Brian Griffiths, who writes analysis and commentary about Maryland politics at the conservative-leaning site The Duckpin, said the website was a first for him.

“I have never heard about anybody trying to pull this off before,” Griffiths said in an email. “Anybody who tries to plagiarize a platform is probably running for office for all the wrong reasons.”

No public polling is available on the state of Khan’s race, but based on the most recent campaign finance reports available, she appears to be a serious contender. She has roughly $19,000 in the bank, second only to Ruth, the incumbent, who has about $25,000 in campaign cash left heading into the final days of the cycle.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Maryland’s primary elections are Tuesday. District 44B encompasses parts of Lochearn, Woodlawn, Catonsville and Arbutus, and Democratic voters will nominate two candidates for the House of Delegates. There are no Republican candidates running.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Patrick Cusack's name.

Read more:

Jessica Calefati is an education enterprise reporter exploring how Johns Hopkins University is shaping Baltimore’s future.

More From The Banner