In the wake of a New York Times article published today, Sen. John Walsh is now facing questions about potential plagiarism in a final paper he submitted while attaining his master's degree from the United States Army War College in 2007. The article outlines numerous examples of material cited almost verbatim in Walsh's thesis on American Middle East policy without proper attribution or, in some cases, any attribution at all. Those un-cited sources include an essay written in 1998 by a scholar at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs as well as a 2002 paper from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The latter, according to the Times, was taken by Walsh nearly word-for-word in the conclusion of his 14-page thesis. [Click here for an interactive Times graphic titled "How Senator John Walsh Plagiarized a Final Paper]
Sen. Walsh was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock in February to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Max Baucus. Walsh is campaigning to hold that seat as the Democratic candidate on the 2014 ballot. His campaign has made much of his military career, underscoring on multiple occasions that he is the only Iraq War veteran currently serving in the U.S. Senate. Public Policy Polling announced Monday that Walsh had gained an additional 10 points against his Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines, since last November. Walsh still trails Daines 39 percent to 46 percent.
The Times quoted Walsh as denying that he'd plagiarized, and went on to cite a campaign aide explaining that a member of Walsh's unit from Iraq had committed suicide just weeks before the paper was due. Politico has quoted a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee calling the plagiarism allegations "smears." Lauren Passalacqua, a spokesperson for Walsh's Senate campaign, issued the following statement by email this afternoon:
“This was unintentional and it was a mistake. There were areas that should have been cited differently but it was completely unintentional. Senator Walsh released every single evaluation that he received during his 33-year military career, which shows an honorable and stellar record of service to protecting Montana and serving this country in Iraq.”