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How Plagiarism Sank A U.S. Senate Campaign


This week in Montana politics, a recap of events leading to Sen. Walsh's decision to drop of out of the U.S. Senate race.

August 7, 2014
Sen. John Walsh decides to drop out of the U.S. Senate race saying in a statement, "The 2007 research paper from my time at the U.S. Army War College has become a distraction from the debate you expect and deserve. I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. Senator."

With just over 2 months until the November 4th elections against Republican Senatorial candidate Steve Daines, the Montana Democratic Party will have to find a replacement to run in place of Walsh.  In a statement to press, Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Andrea Marcoccio said Democrats will hold a special nominating convention and choose a new candidate by August 20.  

August 5, 2014
The Walsh campaign cancels upcoming campaign events, including a fundraiser, amidst rumors that Walsh is considering ending his Senate race.

Politico reports Walsh "is engaged in internal deliberations with his political team about whether to stay on the ballot this year."

August 3, 2014
Montana newspapers including The Missoulian and The Billings Gazette print op-eds calling for Walsh to end his campaign for the Senate.

The same day, Walsh tells NPR he plans to stay in the race, saying, "I'm not a quitter.. "I'm going to continue to fight on behalf of the citizens of Montana."

July 29, 2014
Walsh tells the Billings Gazette editorial board plagiarism charges shouldn't overshadow the achievements of his 33 year career in the National Guard.

“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.

Taking on a more remorseful tone compared to his previous statements, Walsh also tells The Gazette, "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."

July 24, 2014
The U.S. Army War College releases a statement about the plagiarism allegations saying:

"The Army War College initiated its own analysis of the paper and determined this morning that there was reasonable cause to refer the case to the US Army War College Academic Review Board.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and Montana Governor Steve Bullock affirmed their support of Walsh in the wake of the plagiarism allegations.

July 23, 2014
The New York Times reports that Montana Sen. John Walsh "appropriated at least a quarter" of his 2007 master's thesis for the U.S. Army War College "from other authors' works, with no attribution."

The paper, titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy", contains numerous instances of plagiarism, including the six-point conclusion which was "taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic," according to the Times story.

When initially presented with evidence of plagiarism, Walsh told a Times reporter "I didn't do anything intentional here." When asked if he plagiarized he said, "I don't believe I did, no."

In an interview with the Associated Press later that day, Walsh, a 33 year veteran, said the plagiarism was a mistake, and that PTSD from his time in Iraq and stress from a colleague's suicide may have contributed to it.

"I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor. My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment," Walsh said.

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