Montana governor urges respect for senator after plagiarism report

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 24, 2014 8:26 PM

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - Montana’s governor urged respect on Thursday for the courage shown by Democratic U.S. Senator John Walsh during his military service amid allegations he may have lifted parts of a master’s thesis from works by other authors.

The remark came a day after the New York Times reported that Walsh may have lifted at least a quarter of his thesis, according to an examination of the 14-page paper the senator submitted to obtain his degree in 2007.

“Senator Walsh has a long history of fighting for Montanans, both at home and in combat. He deserves respect for his courage on our behalf,” Democratic Governor Steve Bullock said in a statement.

Bullock said he had no knowledge of the issues raised in Wednesday’s New York Times report when he appointed Walsh in February to fill the Senate slot vacated by Democrat Max Baucus.

Walsh, an Iraq War veteran and former commander of the Montana National Guard, is up for election in November to retain his seat while Democrats fight to maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

Walsh's opponent, Republican Representative Steve Daines, did not respond to a request for comment.

The New York Times report said six recommendations by Walsh in his U.S. Army War College thesis were taken almost word-for-word from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document, which Walsh did not cite.

Walsh’s campaign has said the senator had made a mistake in what was a research paper and not a thesis.

“He acknowledges the citations were not all done correctly but that it was an unintentional mistake,” a campaign statement said. “This story will not change Senator Walsh’s commitment to his campaign and it does not change his resolve in dealing with the issues that matter most to Montanans."

Walsh survived an improvised bomb attack in Iraq in October 2005 while commanding a battalion that endured hundreds of bomb and rocket assaults, according to materials released by his campaign.

“He’s a great soldier who learned war strategy on the battlefield firsthand, but he’s not a classroom academic – the Senate already has plenty of those,” campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua said in a statement.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)