John Walsh (U.S. politician)

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John Walsh
John Walsh, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
February 9, 2014[1] – January 3, 2015
Appointed by Steve Bullock
Preceded by Max Baucus
Succeeded by Steve Daines
34th Lieutenant Governor of Montana
In office
January 7, 2013 – February 9, 2014
Governor Steve Bullock
Preceded by John Bohlinger
Succeeded by Angela McLean
Adjutant General of Montana
In office
September 1, 2008 – March 2012
Governor Brian Schweitzer
Preceded by Randall Mosley[2]
Succeeded by Joel Cusker (Acting)[3]
Personal details
Born John Edward Walsh
(1960-11-03) November 3, 1960 (age 56)
Butte, Montana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Janet Walsh
Children 2
Alma mater Excelsior College (B.S.)
United States Army War College (M.A. in strategic studies)
Awards Bronze Star medal.jpg Bronze Star Medal
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Website Congressional website
Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1979–2012
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel (U.S. Army)
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General (Montana Guard)
Unit 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment
Seal of the United States Army National Guard.svg Montana National Guard
Battles/wars Iraq War

John Edward Walsh (born November 3, 1960) is an American politician. He served as a United States Senator from Montana from 2014-15.[5][6]

A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a United States Army National Guard colonel, the adjutant general of the Montana National Guard with a state commission as a brigadier general from 2008 to 2012, and Lieutenant Governor of Montana from 2013 to 2014.[7]

In October 2013, Walsh announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2014 to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Max Baucus.[8] When Baucus retired prior to the end of his term, Walsh was appointed to fill Baucus' seat,[9] and thus Walsh was running as an incumbent in 2014. On August 7, 2014, he announced that he was dropping out of the race, a decision attributed to the controversy arising from allegations made in The New York Times that he had plagiarized portions of a 2007 research paper he had written while at the Army War College.[10] The allegations led to an investigation that resulted in the revocation of Walsh's Master's degree in 2014.[11]

In February 2016 Walsh joined the United States Department of Agriculture as state director of Montana's USDA Rural Development office.[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Walsh was born on November 3, 1960, in Butte, Montana. He graduated from Butte High School in 1979, and enlisted in the Montana Army National Guard. He began working full-time for the Guard in 1984 and received his commission upon completion of Officer Candidate School in 1987.[13][14] Walsh met his wife, Janet, while attending college. They have two adult sons.[15][16]

Walsh is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and the United States Army Command and General Staff College.[17] He attended Carroll College and received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Regents College, the University of the State of New York (now Excelsior College) in 1990.

Walsh received a Master of Arts degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College in 2007. In July 2014, The New York Times, after receiving a tip from an opposition researcher working for the National Republican Senatorial Committee,[18][19][20] reported that Walsh had plagiarized much of a 14-page strategy research paper, a requirement for the degree, with some material directly copied from sources without attribution.[21][22][23][24] Walsh initially denied, then admitted to the allegations, but stated that it was not done intentionally.[23][25] He claimed he was being treated for PTSD at the time[23] stating, "I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor."[26]

The matter was referred to the College's Academic Review Board.[27][28] Former governor Brian Schweitzer wrote a letter to the board in support of Walsh, who claimed the plagiarism was unintentional and that he had been on medication for PTSD at the time. On August 22, the board found that Walsh's plagiarism was "egregious" and "intentional" and that the paper was "primarily composed of verbatim liftings from other sources". The board rejected his PTSD defense, noting that other students also struggle with PTSD and other issues but don't plagiarize.[29] An appeal filed by Walsh was denied, and on October 10, 2014 the College revoked Walsh's degree.[29]

Montana Army National Guard[edit]

Walsh as Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard

Walsh served in the Montana Army National Guard for 33 years.[30] In this capacity he led 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment in combat in Iraq. He earned the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.[31] In 2000, he led operations of over 2,000 Guard members during Montana's wildfires.

In 2008 Walsh was appointed Adjutant General and received a state promotion to brigadier general.[32] He resigned in 2012 to run for Lieutenant Governor, and continued to serve as a traditional Army Guardsman (one weekend drill per month, two weeks of annual training each year).[33] He was appointed by his successor to serve as the Montana National Guard's land component commander, and he served in this position until retiring from the National Guard in December 2012.[34]

A 2010 Army Inspector General report concluded that Walsh used the Adjutant General's post for "private gain" by pressuring subordinates into joining the National Guard Association of the United States in an effort to bolster Montana's membership numbers and enhance Walsh's candidacy for Vice President of NGAUS.[30][35] Walsh disputed the IG's report, explaining that it stemmed from a disagreement in interpreting the rules which govern when and how Department of Defense employees can take part in activities such as running for a NGAUS leadership position.[36] Walsh further noted that the NGAUS position was uncompensated, requiring him to travel to meetings at his own expense.[37] The report prevented him from receiving federal recognition as a general officer during his tenure as Adjutant General.[38] (Adjutants General are normally federally recognized as major generals in the reserve component of the Army or Air Force, provided they meet all eligibility criteria.) News accounts indicated that Walsh received a formal letter from General Peter W. Chiarelli, then the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, in which Chiarelli reminded Walsh of his obligation to remain impartial in his dealings with non-federal entities, such as NGAUS.[39]

Former Governor Brian Schweitzer said that when he received the report in 2010, he considered it "much ado about nothing."[37] Contemporary news accounts indicated that Schweitzer wrote to Chiarelli to state his confidence in Walsh's integrity and abilities, and to urge his promotion to the federally recognized general officer ranks.[39]

Lieutenant Governor of Montana[edit]

In March 2012, Attorney General and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Steve Bullock selected Walsh to be his running mate.[40] The pair won the Democratic primary with 87% of the vote. In the general election, Bullock and Walsh defeated their Republican opponents, former Congressman Rick Hill and his running mate, State Senator Jon Sonju, by 49% to 47%.[41]

They assumed office in January 2013 upon the expiration of the term of Governor Schweitzer and Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger.[42]

U.S. Senate[edit]


In December 2013, President Barack Obama nominated retiring United States Senator Max Baucus to be the next United States Ambassador to China.[43]

On February 6, 2014, Baucus was confirmed and resigned his Senate seat. On February 9, Governor Bullock appointed Walsh to serve the remainder of Baucus' Senate term, and Walsh resigned as Lieutenant Governor.[44] He was sworn in on February 11, taking the oath from Vice President Joe Biden.[45][46]

Committee assignments[edit]

Legislative work[edit]

Walsh supported passage of the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act and reauthorization of the Native American Languages Act of 1990. "Preserving Native languages is essential to improving education for tribal nations", he said.[48] Along with six other Democratic senators, Walsh co-sponsored the Small Business Tax Credits Accessibility Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 28.[49][50]

He and Republican congressman Steve Daines supported the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013, which proposed to "protect both sides of the Flathead River drainage from energy and mineral development".[51] The bill passed in the House, but Senate Republicans prevented it from being voted on, killing it in the Senate.[52] He asked Congress to support the Keystone Pipeline and proposed to leave infrastructure decisions to the State Department, instead of the President.[53] He supported extending the tax credit for wind energy, and passing the Medicare Protection Act.[54][55] Along with many Democrats and one Independent, he supported the Paycheck Fairness Act.[56]

On June 18, 2014, in a speech before the Senate, he urged the U.S. should react with "extreme caution" to events in Iraq. He spoke briefly about his experiences as an infantry officer there, and urged other Congressmen to consider the ongoing impacts of war in their decision.[57] On July 8, 2014, Walsh introduced the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 2569; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to grant business taxpayers a tax credit for up to 20% of insourcing expenses incurred for eliminating a business located outside the United States and relocating it within the United States, and deny a tax deduction for outsourcing expenses incurred in relocating a U.S. business outside the United States.[58][59]

Harry Reid praised him for his military service and efforts to prevent suicide among veterans.[60]

2014 election[edit]

On October 3, 2013, Walsh announced his intention to run for the seat of retiring Senator Max Baucus. On February 9, 2014, Walsh was appointed to replace Baucus in the Senate after Baucus stepped down early, making Walsh the incumbent in the race.[61] Rancher Dirk Adams and former Montana Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger also ran for the Democratic nomination.[62][63][64][65]

Walsh was endorsed by Governor Bullock, Senator Jon Tester, and former Senator Baucus, an arrangement which was criticized by his opponent as being "politically motivated", designed to give Walsh an advantage in the election by making him an incumbent, which would aid fundraising efforts.[66] Walsh defeated Adams and Bohlinger in June 3, 2014 primary election.[67] Republican Congressman Steve Daines defeated two other candidates in the Republican primary and would have been Walsh's opponent in the general election.[65] Walsh was endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.[68][69]

When The New York Times reported in July 2014 that Walsh had plagiarized a 2007 paper he submitted at the War College, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee initially announced that it was "100% behind" Walsh.[70] In contrast, at least three Montana newspapers, the Missoulian, the Billings Gazette, and the Bozeman-area Montana Pioneer, published editorials calling for Walsh to end his candidacy because of the plagiarism allegation.[71] In addition to the damage of the allegations themselves, Walsh's campaign was criticized for missteps in its response.[72] The campaign office acknowledged they had made an "unintentional mistake" when they stated Walsh had "survived hundreds of IED explosions".[73] They clarified that this figure applied to his unit; Walsh personally survived one attack.[72][74]

On August 7, 2014, Walsh announced that he was leaving the 2014 race to concentrate on finishing up his term in the Senate, which was scheduled to end in January 2015. The Montana state Democratic Central Committee had to select a replacement candidate to appear on the November ballot,[10] and on August 16, chose State Representative Amanda Curtis as Walsh's replacement.[75] In October 2014, the National Republican Senatorial Committee revealed that a researcher on its staff had found the plagiarism and leaked it to The New York Times.[76]

In the November 2014 general election Republican Steve Daines defeated Curtis 57.9% to 40.0%.[77] Daines's term began on January 3, and he was sworn in on January 6, 2015.[78]

Post-Senate career[edit]

In February 2016 a spokesperson for the United States Department of Agriculture announced that Walsh had been appointed state director of Montana's USDA Rural Development office.[79]


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  13. ^ Profile,; accessed December 24, 2015.
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  31. ^ "Mid-Winter Conference Highlights" (PDF). Kiwanis. 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
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  33. ^ Johnson, Charles S. (March 7, 2012). "Bullock to Name Gen. Walsh as Running Mate". Billings Gazette. Billings, MT. 
  34. ^ "Military Retirement Order, John Edward Walsh". Ft. Harrison, MT: Montana National Guard. December 26, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2016. You are separated from the Army National Guard on date indicated and assigned as indicated on date immediately following. Effective date: 26 December 2012. Type of separation: Honorable (A). Relieved from: Duty Position; Land Component Commander. Transferred to: The Retired Reserve 
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  38. ^ Mike Dennison, Montana Standard, Adverse Report Prevented Walsh From Promotion to Army General, January 18, 2014.
  39. ^ a b The Montana Standard State Bureau (2014-01-18). "Schweitzer wrote Army defending Walsh after IG report". Montana Standard. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
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  42. ^ Johnson, Charles S. (2013-01-07). "Bullock sworn in as Montana's 24th governor". Missoulian. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  43. ^ "Obama Announces Nomination Of Max Baucus As China Ambassador". Talking Points Memo. 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
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  50. ^ "Summary: H.R.4128 — 113th Congress (2013–2014)". Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
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  54. ^ "Letter to Ron Wyden, Chairman Committee on Finance and Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member Committee on Finance – Include Extensions of Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit for Wind Energy in Upcoming Tax-Extenders Package". March 21, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
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  68. ^ "Planned Parenthood Locan and National Political Advocacy Groups endorse Montana lt. Gov. John Walsh for Senate". Planned Parenthood. January 14, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Bohlinger
Lieutenant Governor of Montana
Succeeded by
Angela McLean
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Max Baucus
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Montana
Served alongside: Jon Tester
Succeeded by
Steve Daines
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Bohlinger
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Montana
Succeeded by
Mike Cooney
Preceded by
Max Baucus
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Montana
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Amanda Curtis