John Walsh (Montana)

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John Walsh
Gen. John Walsh.jpg
U.S. Senate, Montana
Former senator
In office
February 7, 2014-January 3, 2015
PredecessorMax Baucus (D)
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Lieutenant Governor, Montana
Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard
September 2008 - March 7, 2012
High schoolButte High School
Bachelor'sState University of New York (1990)
Master'sU.S. Army War College (2007)
Military service
Service/branchMontana National Guard
Years of service1979-Present
Date of birthNovember 3, 1960
Place of birthButte, MT
John E. Walsh was a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, representing the state of Montana. He was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock on February 7, 2014, to fill the Senate seat of Max Baucus after Baucus was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to China on February 6, 2014.[1] Walsh held the seat until his term ended on January 3, 2015.

Walsh lost his bis for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2014. He won the Democratic nomination in the primary on June 3, 2014, but withdrew from the race on August 7, 2014, after reports surfaced that he had plagiarized large portions of his final thesis for the United States Army War College.[2][3]

Walsh formerly served as Lieutenant Governor of Montana. He was elected on a ticket with Steve Bullock, then the Attorney General of Montana, and was sworn in as lieutenant governor on January 7, 2013.[4]


Walsh was born November 3, 1960, in Butte, Montana. He graduated from Butte High School, received an undergraduate degree from the State University and earned a master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. Walsh has served over 30 years in the Montana National Guard and resigned as Montana's Adjutant General in order to run for lieutenant governor.[5]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Walsh's academic career:[6]

  • Butte High School
  • B.A., State University of New York
  • M.A., Strategic studies, U.S. Army War College


Below is an abbreviated outline of Walsh's political career:[6]

  • 2013-2014: Lieutenant Governor of Montana
  • 2014-2015: United States Senator, Montana

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Walsh served on the following committees:[7]



Misuse of position

A 2010 report found Walsh improperly used his position as adjutant general for personal gain. The report, written by the inspector general of the Army, alleged Walsh tried to get the Montana National Guard, a private group, to join the National Guard Association of the United States. At the time he was running for vice-chair Army of the national association. Prior to endorsing the NGAUS, Walsh asked the Judge Advocate General of the National Guard Bureau if he could legally endorse the association given his position. He interpreted the opinion as allowing an endorsement.[8]

Plagiarism of thesis

In July 2014, reports surfaced that Walsh had plagiarized a significant portion of the 14-page final thesis necessary to earn his master’s degree from the United States Army War College. The thesis, completed in 2007, was on American Middle East policy and was entitled, "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy." Many sentences appeared to be copied almost verbatim from other documents, including one from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one from Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Walsh referenced some of these sentences in footnotes, but did not use quotation marks, leading readers to incorrectly assume that the sentences had been reworded. Other sentences were not cited at all, despite having come directly from other writers' work.[9] An interactive graphic of the thesis can be found here.

Walsh defended his actions, stating, "I didn’t do anything intentional here." One of his aides noted that Walsh had been going through a hard time in the weeks leading up to the paper's deadline, as one of the fellow members from his Iraq unit had committed suicide.[9] The college's review board later noted that Walsh had submitted drafts of the paper with plagiarized quotes prior to the suicide.[10]

According to one New York Times article, the college's student handbook states, "discoveries of academic violations have led to degrees being rescinded and names being scraped off the bronze plaques honoring graduates on campus."[9] After an investigation completed in October 2014, the U.S. Army War College revoked Walsh's degree.[10]


On July 23, 2014, Walsh admitted his plagiarism, but attributed at least part of it to his unhealthy state of mind in the midst of struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in Iraq. Walsh stated, "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."[11]

Just two days later, on July 25, Walsh contradicted his claim that the plagiarism was linked to his PTSD. He declared in a radio interview, "I am in no way, no way, tying what I did to any type of PTSD."[12]

Decision to drop out of race

After Walsh received heavy criticism from the media regarding his plagiarism scandal, many groups began calling for Walsh to end his U.S. Senate campaign. The editorial board for the Missoulian, a Montana newspaper, wrote, "Since Montanans deserve a true choice between candidates this November, Walsh should bow out of the Senate race immediately. With each passing day that Walsh remains in the race, Montana Democrats lose time to replace him with a more viable candidate."[13] The Billings Gazette, another Montana newspaper, wrote, "Having repeatedly said that he wants to do the honorable thing, Walsh should stop campaigning and do his utmost to serve Montanans well in the remainder of his brief Senate appointment. That is the honorable course."[13]

On August 5, 2014, an article from Politico reported that Walsh was "engaged in internal deliberations with his political team about whether to stay on the ballot this year."[14] At the time, his campaign spokeswoman, Lauren Passalacqua, would say only, “We’re not going to comment on rumors.”[14] In order for the Democratic Party to choose another candidate to take Walsh's place, he needed to drop out of the election by August 11, 2014.[14]

On August 7, 2014, Walsh announced that he would withdraw from the race. He announced, "I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator."[15] The War College also announced that they were making an investigation into Walsh's plagiarism.[15] In October 2014, the college completed the investigation and decided to revoke Walsh's master's degree. The review board stated, "In short, the paper was plagiarized and ... the plagiarism was intentional."[10] In response to the decision, Walsh released a statement in which he wrote, "I apologize to all Montanans for the plagiarism in my 2007 paper, and I am prepared to live with its consequences."[10]

The Democratic Party had until August 20 to choose a new candidate to take Walsh's place. After the Secretary of State, Linda McCulloch, authorized the party to choose a replacement, they held a convention in Helena, MT, where they voted on a new nominee.[3] On August 16, 2014, the Democratic Party chose Amanda Curtis to run against Steve Daines in the November general election.[16]



See also: United States Senate elections in Montana, 2014

Walsh ran in the 2014 election for the U.S. Senate, representing Montana. Walsh won the Democratic nomination in the primary on June 3, 2014.[2] However, he dropped out of the election on August 7, 2014, due to pressure from fellow Democrats after he received harsh criticism for plagiarism of his college thesis.[3]

U.S. Senate, Montana Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Walsh Incumbent 64% 48,665
John Bohlinger 22.6% 17,187
Dirk Adams 13.3% 10,139
Total Votes 75,991
Source: Montana Secretary of State - Official Primary Results

Walsh was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock on February 7, 2014, to fill the Senate seat of Max Baucus after Baucus was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to China on February 6, 2014.

A poll released in November 2013 by Public Policy Polling showed that, regardless of the candidate, Republican Steve Daines was likely to win the seat in 2014. In a match-up against Democrat John Walsh, Daines led 52 percent to 35 percent. In a match-up against Democrat John Bohlinger, Daines led 51 percent to 36 percent.[17]

Campaign officials

In October 2013, the Walsh campaign hired former officials of Sen. Jon Tester's successful 2012 re-election campaign.[18]

Fundraiser for Walsh

Jon Tester and Max Baucus held a fundraiser in November 2013 for Walsh, who was running for Montana's U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Baucus was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China and did not seek re-election. The fundraiser featured Democrat Chuck Schumer from New York. This fundraiser angered Democrat John Bohlinger, who challenged Walsh in the Democratic senatorial primary. He said, "I am really troubled by the involvement of the Washington insiders in a Montana Democratic senatorial primary race. They should have no business of trying to influence an outcome of an election here." Bohlinger continued to blast D.C. donors saying, "I’ll be raising money, but it will be far lesser amounts than the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (of Washington, D.C.) will pour into Walsh’s campaign fund. Mine will be money that comes from Montanans. I’m really offended by the DSCC and their interest in this (primary)."[19]


John Walsh 2014 campaign ad

Walsh campaign ad attacking Steve Daines


See also: Montana gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2012

In Montana, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected on a single ticket. Walsh was Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock's running mate in the 2012 election.[20] They defeated Heather Margolis and her running mate Steve Nelsen in the primary election on June 5, 2012.[21]

Steve Bullock introducing Walsh during the 2012 campaign

Bullock and Walsh won election in the general election on November 6, 2012.

Governor/Lieutenant Governor of Montana General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngSteve Bullock and John E. Walsh 48.9% 236,450
     Republican Rick Hill and Jon Sonju 47.3% 228,879
     Libertarian Ron Vandevender and Marc Mulcahy 3.8% 18,160
Total Votes 483,489
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State.

Governor/Lt. Governor of Montana, Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngSteve Bullock & John E. Walsh 86.6% 76,738
Heather Margolis & Steve Nelsen 13.4% 11,823
Total Votes 88,561
Election Results via Montana Secretary of State.

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Walsh is available dating back to 2000. Based on available campaign finance records, Walsh raised a total of $1,863,832 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 17, 2013.[22]

John Walsh (Montana)'s Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Lieutenant Governor of Montana* Won $1,863,832
Grand Total Raised $1,863,832
*This was a joint-ticket with Governor Steve Bullock.


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Walsh's reports before he withdrew from the election.[23]

John Walsh (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Year-End Quarterly[24]December 31, 2013$0.00$583,103.00$(147,554.00)$435,549.00
April Quarterly[25]April 15, 2014$435,549.48$946,393.01$(684,576.50)$697,365.99
Running totals


Walsh won re-election to the position of Lieutenant Governor of Montana in 2012. During that election cycle, Walsh raised a total of $1,863,832.

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a two-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of two different metrics:

PGI: Donation Concentration Metric

See also: The Donation Concentration Metric (U.S. Congress Personal Gain Index)

Filings required by the Federal Election Commission report on the industries that give to each candidate. Using campaign filings and information calculated by, Ballotpedia calculated the percentage of donations by industry received by each incumbent over the course of his or her career (or 1989 and later, if elected prior to 1988). Walsh received the most donations from individuals and PACs employed by the Lawyers/Law Firms industry.

From 2013-2014, 37.85 percent of Walsh's career contributions came from the top five industries as listed below.[26]

Donation Concentration Metric graphic.png
John Walsh (Montana) Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $2,779,750
Total Spent $2,066,129
Top five industries that contributed to campaign committee
Lawyers/Law Firms$347,146
Leadership PACs$313,000
Real Estate$88,610
% total in top industry12.49%
% total in top two industries23.75%
% total in top five industries37.85%


Walsh and his wife, Janet, live in Helena and have two adult sons.

Recent news

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. USA Today, "John Walsh tapped to replace Max Baucus in Senate," accessed February 7, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Politico, "Democrat Walsh files for Senate in Montana," accessed October 9, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Washington Post, "John Walsh just dropped out of Montana’s Senate race. Now what?," accessed August 7, 2014
  4. The Billings-Gazette, "Bullock sworn in as 24th governor of Montana," January 7, 2013
  5. Steve, "About Gen. Walsh," accessed March 14, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "WALSH, John E., (1960 - )," accessed January 9, 2015
  7. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 18, 2013
  8., "Report: Lt Gov. John Walsh improperly used adjutant general position," accessed December 31, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The New York Times, "Montana Democrat’s Thesis Presented Others’ Work as His Own," accessed July 23, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 ABC News, "Army War College Revokes Sen. John Walsh's Degree," accessed October 13, 2014
  11. Yahoo! News, "Senator says he had PTSD when he wrote thesis," accessed July 28, 2014
  12. The Wall Street Journal, "Sen. John Walsh: PTSD Not to Blame for Plagiarism," accessed July 28, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Huffington Post, "John Walsh Receives Calls From Montana Press To End Senate Campaign," accessed August 6, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Politico, "Sources: Sen. John Walsh weighs political future," accessed August 6, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 The New York Times, "Montana Senator in Plagiarism Case Ends Election Bid," accessed August 7, 2014
  16. Missoulian, "Amanda Curtis wins Montana Democratic nomination to U.S. Senate," accessed August 18, 2014
  17. Politico, "Montana Senate race 2014 poll: Steve Daines in driver’s seat," accessed November 21, 2013
  18. Politico, "Democrats feel good about Montana 2014," accessed October 24, 2013
  19., "Bohlinger criticizes Baucus, Tester for early backing of Walsh in U.S. Senate race," accessed November 12, 2013
  20. Helena Independent Record, "Bullock makes pick of Walsh as running mate official," March 9, 2012
  21. Montana Secretary of State, "Unofficial results: June 5, 2012," accessed June 5, 2012
  22. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Steve Bullock," accessed July 17, 2013
  23. Federal Election Commission, "John Walsh Summary Report," accessed February 7, 2014
  24. Federal Election Commission, "John Walsh Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 7, 2014
  25. Federal Election Commission, "John Walsh April Quarterly," accessed April 29, 2014
  26., "Sen. John Walsh," accessed October 7, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Max Baucus (D)
United States Senate - Montana
Succeeded by
Steve Daines (R)
Preceded by
John Bohlinger (R)
Lieutenant Governor of Montana
2013 - 2014
Succeeded by
Angela McLean