Attempting to move beyond the plagiarism scandal that’s engulfed his campaign, U.S. Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., said Tuesday he’s hopeful voters will consider his entire career.
Walsh told The Gazette editorial board his 33 years in the National Guard and his performance as a U.S. senator shouldn’t be eclipsed by revelations that he plagiarized portions of a 2007 research paper at the Army War College. The New York Times broke the plagiarism story last week as issues key to the Walsh’s re-election began to emerge in the Senate.
“I’m very hopeful that Montanans will look at my overall career and not just this one serious blemish on my career and evaluate me on the entirety instead of just this one issue,” Walsh said.
Walsh, appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock in February to replace retiring Sen. Max Baucus, said he will not end his U.S. Senate campaign or resign from the office over the plagiarism issue, which seemed to be evolving Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it would oversee the U.S. Army War College plagiarism investigation of Walsh’s work. War College provost Lance Betros told the Associated Press the Defense Department’s involvement was extremely rare.
A five member academic review board will submit its findings to DOD, which will decide whether punishment, which could include rescinding Walsh’s master’s degree and grinding his name from the bronze plaque of graduates, is necessary.
Betros told the Associated Press that Walsh has until Aug. 15 to submit a defense and could appear before the board at a private hearing.
“I know I made a mistake. I did not complete my research paper properly. I take full responsibility for the paper as well as the consequences from the paper,” Walsh told The Gazette. “I have received notification from the academic review board at the Army War College and I’m going to provide them with any information that they need as we move forward.”
Moving forward has been hard for Walsh since a New York Times reporter confronted the senator in a congressional hallway with a copy of the plagiarized paper. Walsh told The Gazette the hallway meeting with the New York Times reporter was the first time he realized he’d done something wrong.
The revelation came as Walsh prepared to roll out his “Bring Jobs Home Act,” a bill to close tax loopholes for U.S. companies exporting American jobs. The bill, which isn’t likely to receive the necessary support from House Republicans to pass, also offered a tax credit to U.S. corporations who returned off-shored jobs to America. The bill passed 93-7, but it was Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who rolled out the bill without Walsh at a press event July 22, the day before the plagiarism story was published. Stabenow told Roll Call that Walsh wanted to attend the event but had a scheduling conflict.
The Montana media, scrambling to catch up with the New York Times plagiarism story, paid little, if any, attention to the Bring Jobs Home Act, which Walsh seemed to be setting up as a philosophical contrast between himself and his election challenger U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
Earlier in the July, the Walsh campaign issued a press release emphasizing that as Walsh introduced legislation to promote the return of American jobs, Daines in the House was voting against an amendment to punish corporations for exporting jobs. The Walsh campaign has been advancing a narrative that Daines, as a Procter & Gamble employee, helped ship 3,000 American jobs overseas. Daines flatly denies the allegation. The plagiarism scandal effectively silenced Walsh from advancing the argument last week.
This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs Secretary and reached a deal with the House on a $15 billion emergency spending bill to reform the scandal-plagued VA health care system. Walsh has made veterans issues a cornerstone of his campaign and mentioned his attention to veterans issues more than once while speaking with The Gazette. He is also the Senate’s only Iraq War combat veteran.