Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 30, 2015

Walsh on Plagiarism: ‘I Made a Mistake’ But Not Due to PTSD

( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John Walsh said he “made a mistake” when he plagiarized portions of his Masters’ thesis and dismissed possible affects of post-traumatic stress disorder possibly playing a role.

“I was going to the United States Army War College, I had to write a strategic research paper and I made a mistake,” the Montana Democrat said Friday on KMMS AM Radio in Bozeman, Mont.

“It was an unintentional mistake when I put the paper together,” Walsh said. “It was a 14-page paper. There were 96 citations that I identified in the paper. Some of those citations were identified incorrectly and some of the comments that I left in the paper I did not put a citation against. So I made a mistake on my paper. It was an unintentional mistake.”

Walsh, an Iraq war veteran facing a tough re-election fight, was appointed to serve out the remainder of the term of former Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who was tapped by President Obama to be the ambassador to China. Walsh was sworn in in February following Baucus’ confirmation.

The New York Times recently published a story that charged Walsh had plagiarized part of his master’s thesis.

Eager to get the story behind him, the junior Montana senator stressed in the interview that the transgression happened a while ago and urged voters to focus on his record of service, including commanding an infantry battalion in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.

“It happened seven years ago,” Walsh said. “But what I think is important for Montanans to look at is this is just one aspect of my entire career. I’ve served for 33 years in the Montana National Guard. I released all of my records to the public in January of this year, which show every officer evaluation report that I’ve received throughout my career. I received glowing ratings from my supervisors.”

“So in the scope of this – not to say this is not an important issue – but this is not a life and death situation from my perspective,” Walsh said.

Walsh said that when he attended the U.S. Army War College the pressure of having commanded a battalion in Iraq, as well as losing four soldiers and the suicide of another made it difficult to keep his mind on his studies.

“All those rockets and IEDs didn’t hit me, but as the commander of that unit, I am responsible for every one of those men and women,” Walsh said. “Everything good that happens in the organization was my responsibility, but so [too] everything that was bad was my responsibility. It weighed very heavy on me to lose four soldiers.”

“So when I went to the War College I was probably not in my best academic mind state to be doing that type of thing and made some mistakes on the paper while I was there,” Walsh said.

But Walsh dismissed the possibility post-traumatic stress disorder playing a role.

“One thing … I would really like to clear up is that I am in no way — no way — tying what I did to any type of PTSD,” Walsh said. “It had nothing to do with the mistake that I made. People are trying to say I may have said that. … That is not in any way what I meant or said.”

While he has been keeping a lower than usual profile in recent days despite the Senate debating a bill he sponsored – in part, to boost his re-election prospects – Walsh said he wants to get back to talking about issues that Montanans care about like creating jobs and helping veterans.

“I have made mistakes previously in life and more than likely I will make mistakes in the future, but I accept those mistakes and I am going to move on,” Walsh said.

The question now is whether voters will.

Comments (74)

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    July 26, 2014
    5:31 p.m.

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  2. ShadrachSmith

    July 27, 2014
    1:42 p.m.

    This makes the second Dem Senate candidate to stupidly self-immolate in the ’14 cycle. The other is Braley in Iowa. Braley told a group of his fellow lawyers how stupid Iowa farmers are…possibly the worst gaff in American political history.

    Karma…dude :-)

  3. Mickey Kovars

    July 27, 2014
    11:01 p.m.

    Since he’s a Democrat, the media will do their best to paper over his little problem. It does seem that he’s willing to cut corners unethically, which I’d certainly take into account if I were voting there. Whole lot of unethical conduct among Democrats going on now.

  4. govskeptic

    July 28, 2014
    12:17 p.m.

    Why not say “I lied on this” both to the War College and to the public.
    Why? because that’s what we politicians do, especially in the Democratic party.
    Our party always forgives these misdeeds so, why not.

  5. flyr

    July 28, 2014
    12:25 p.m.

    The key issue is not the failure to cite a source of fact but rather the fact that the conclusions which he presented were lifted word for word from another author. That’s the worst form of dishonest plagiarism.

    That his fellow democrats are huddled around trying to spin this as ptsd, stress etc. With all due respect sir…. you would not accept stress as an excuse for one of your soldiers to lie about an important matter. Chances are that your troops were a lot closer to the action than you were.

    I appreciate your service to the nation and respect your sacrifices. However, integrity is a cornerstone issue in government.

  6. Carroll Barber

    July 28, 2014
    6:04 p.m.

    Another politician with absolutely no shame, no limits & no class. His wife and family must be really proud of this scumbag. But, h

  7. Madeleine

    July 28, 2014
    7:22 p.m.

    Anyone else would have been thrown out of school……his degree should be taken away and he should lose his job….no excuses…..he knew EXACTLY what he was doing which shows one his character…………….not honest in any way and he got away with it with no punishment……………………let us teach him and all other dishonest people a big lesson……………

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    July 30, 2014
    4:37 a.m.

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    July 31, 2014
    12:32 p.m.

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  11. Bfv Mikegolf

    Aug. 17, 2014
    6:37 p.m.

    Regarding Mr. Walsh’s comment: “I released all of my records to the public in January of this year, which show every officer evaluation report that I’ve received throughout my career. I received glowing ratings from my supervisors.” (Military records Mr. Walsh released (27 JAN 14). (available on line:

    Can he explain the following:

    Officer Evaluation Report(s) DA Form 67-9 for rating periods (format is year/month/day) 20101101 through 20121226 are not included in the released records, which means a minimum of three evaluation reports are missing (e.g., two annual and one complete the record) for that time period. The Memorandum of Reprimand was filed on 2 NOV 2010. The Evaluation Reports, for rating periods 19961216-19970729, 20010501-20020930, 20011101-20020930, 20040622-20050621, and 20050622-20051030 are written on the March 2006 edition of Officer Evaluation Report DA Form 67-9 which did not yet exist during those rating periods.

    Noted also is that on some of the evaluation reports, Walsh electronically signed three of them on the same day! The signature dates in the Rater and Senior Rater section are outside the time limits set by Army Regulation 632-3 Evaluation Reporting System para 1–4. Responsibilities (14) Local submission procedures support senior raters’ responsibility to ensure that completed evaluation reports arrive at HQDA no later than 90 days after the “THRU” date of the evaluation report, or as stipulated in a military personnel (MILPER) message announcing an HQDA-level selection board. The mportance of the evaluation report, as with many personnel actions within a Soldier’s military career, especially those involving HQDA selection boards, requires that this suspense be met.

    “Upon his appointment as adjutant general, Walsh received a “brevet” promotion to brigadier general, which is a temporary promotion from the governor, allowing him to hold the rank but not be paid at that level or recognized federally.” (Montana Standard, “Adverse report prevented Walsh from promotion to Army general” by Mike Dennison, 18 JAN 2014 )

    Observation: There is no official correspondence/documentation authorizing brevet in the released records to support claim. See Army Regulation 135–156 Army National Guard and Army Reserve, Reserve Component General Officer Personnel Management para 1-4 Responsibilities d. The CNGB will
    exercise the following authority over ARNGUS GO personnel actions and may
    approve exceptions to this regulation for actions pertaining to: (3) Brevetting of Adjutants General in their State’s Army National Guard at the written request of their Governor, to one grade over the officer’s federally recognized grade, not to exceed that of major general (MG) (O–7), when authorized by State law.
    (ARNGUS-Army National Guard of the United States, CNGB-Chief, National Guard Bureau, GO- General Officer)


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