NYT: Democratic Senator Appears To Have Plagiarized His Master’s Thesis

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July 23, 2014 4:10 p.m.

This post has been updated.

U.S. Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), appointed to the post earlier this year and facing a difficult campaign in November, appears to have plagiarized major portions of his 2007 master’s thesis, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Walsh, an Iraq war veteran and Bronze Star recipient with more than 30 year of military service, received a master’s degree from the United States Army War College. He was required to complete a “strategic research project,” according to the Times. Walsh’s paper (PDF) was titled: “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy.”

The Times found that the six recommendations that concluded Walsh’s paper were taken almost word for word from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report without attribution. Other sections of the paper included footnotes for their sources, but adopted the original source’s language almost identically, the Times reported.

“I didn’t do anything intentional here,” Walsh told the Times when confronted about the issues. Asked if he had plagiarized: “I don’t believe I did, no.”

While not objecting to the plagiarism charge, an anonymous campaign aide for the senator told the Times that Walsh had been experiencing personal difficulties while writing the paper. A member of his Army unit had committed suicide in the weeks before the paper was due, the aide said.

The master’s degree had been a career staple for Walsh. His appointment as adjutant general for Montana National Guard in 2009 had been “bolstered” by the degree, the Times reported.

Walsh has been trailing his Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines, by an average of 9.3 percentage points, according to TPM’s PollTracker.

Update: 5:40 p.m. ET

Walsh campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua released the following statement to TPM about the Times report:

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.

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