Group of academics say 29% of Pea Nietos paper was material lifted from other runs, including 20 paragraphs copied word-for-word from a book

President Enrique Pea Nieto of Mexico heavily plagiarized the thesis for his statute degree, according to an investigation by a local news outlet.

Aristegui Noticias on Sunday published an online report based on its examination of the embattled presidents thesis by a group of academics, which it said was then corroborated by the news outlet.

It said 29% of the thesis was material lifted from other runs, including 20 paragraph copied word-for-word from a volume written by former chairman Miguel de la Madrid without citation or mention in the bibliography.

A spokesman for Pea Nieto responded on Sunday that the president had completed all requirements for his statute degree and downplayed the relevance of style faults in academic work done 25 years earlier.

Pea Nieto did not mention the dispute on Monday as he spoke in front of students at his old elementary school in Toluca to inaugurate the first day of the new school year.

The thesis titled Mexican Presidentialism and Alvaro Obregn was submitted in 1991 to the Panamerican University.

The news website is delivered by journalist Carmen Aristegui, who in 2014 reported that Pea Nietos wife was buying a home with financial assistance for a government contractor. The first lady eventually gave up the house and in recent months Pea Nieto has said he understands why the so-called White House scandal upset so many Mexicans.

Several months after that investigation was published Aristegui was fired by the radio station where her investigative team worked. They have since re-emerged online.

A poll by the national newspaper Reforma this month observed Pea Nietos approval rating at 23%, the lowest rating for any chairperson since it began the survey in 1995. The margin of mistake was 3.3 percentage points.

Its not the first time that Pea Nietos academic rigor has been called into question.

When he was a candidate for the presidency in 2011, Pea Nieto stumbled when asked to name three books that influenced him. He managed the Bible, before fumbling through other mismatched writers and titles.

Recent charges of plagiarism have not been limited to Mexico.

In 2006, a scholar at the Brookings Institution found that now-Russian president Vladimir Putin in earning his graduate degree had copied pages of material from a book written by two American professors.

In 2012, Hungarys President Pal Schmitt whose role was largely ceremonial resigned after a scandal over his doctoral dissertation.

Earlier this year, a German university decided to let the countrys defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, maintain her doctorate after plagiarized passages were found in her dissertation.

Last month, potential first lady Melania Trump gave a speech at the Republican national convention using phrases nearly identical to those in an earlier speech by Michelle Obama.

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