HELENA–Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate John Walsh said Saturday he disagrees with a 2010 report by the inspector general of the U.S. Army concluding that Walsh, then adjutant general of the Montana National Guard, had improperly used his position for private gain.

On Friday, the Montana Television Network reported the Army’s inspector general also concluded that Walsh improperly used government resources and improperly endorsed a non-federal entity.

The investigation involved Walsh’s soliciting members of the Montana National Guard to join the National Guard Association of the United States. It’s a private group, started in 1878 and funded by memberships. The association lobbies on behalf of the guard for better equipment, training and benefits.

“I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusion,” Walsh, a Democratic Senate candidate from Helena, said in an interview. He said responded with a letter to the Army disputing the findings, but to no avail.

Walsh said he received no personal gain, nor was he disciplined after the report.

At the time, Walsh was running for, and was later elected, to be vice chair-Army of the national association. He previously served on its national board of directors. Both were unpaid positions.

“The state wouldn’t pay for us to go back there,” Walsh said. “It was my time and my own resources in a lot of cases.”

Walsh informed his then boss, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, of the investigation. He said Schweitzer said, “You work for me. You are my adjutant general and my director of the Department of Military Affairs and were to continue (in those posts).” Walsh said he always received “glowing reports,” in his evaluations, including from Schweitzer.

Before Walsh solicited guard officers to join the association, he said sought a legal opinion from the Judge Advocate General of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.

“The way I interpreted the legal opinion is that I could endorse the NGAUS in my state capacity,” he said. “The IG (inspector general) disagreed.”

*****

How the controversy will affect Walsh’s Senate campaign is uncertain. He is in a three-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate seat in 2014, facing former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger of Helena and Dirk Adams of Wilsall in the primary.

“It cuts against Walsh’s strength,” David Parker, political science professor at Montana State University, said. “While I don’t think the allegations are a huge deal, it makes it harder for him to say he’s going to go and clean up D.C.”

Walsh called it unfortunate that “there are people out there that are trying to make political hay of this. It’s not the way I was brought up in my career.”

Walsh said he doesn’t believe the news will derail his campaign.

“When people see what I was doing as adjutant general and as a board member of the National Guard Association of the United States, that’s the kind of leadership that citizens of Montana want in Washington, D.C. Someone who’s going to stand up and have the courage to do what’s right and then take the responsibility for their actions.”

Walsh added, “I’m not going to apologize for fighting for the young Montanans that served under my command in the Montana National Guard or for trying to make the Montana National Guard a better organization, and I’m not going to stop fighting for it.”

The inspector general’s report said that Walsh, at two workshops in February 2010, said that membership in the association and a similar group for enlisted men, “was a top readiness priority” for the Montana National Guard.

In a six-page May 2010 email to Montana Army National Guard officers, warrant officers and senior leaders, Walsh told them he was a lifelong member of the NGAUS and a regional director.

He told how membership in the association contributed to the readiness of the Army, National Guard and Montana National Guard and included its history and benefits, the report said. It quoted Walsh saying he “strongly believed it was the responsibility of leaders to support the association.”

Walsh sent another email in June 2010. The report quoted a subordinate officer testifying that Walsh’s message felt “more like coercion” and those senior members of the command talking to him in other emails felt “very threatening.”

*****

Another subordinate said in an email later that month that “I find it a little intimidating and fear that I am being bullied (read Strongly Encouraged) into joining,” according to the report.

Walsh said he strongly believes in the importance of the National Guard Association of the United States and the similar organization for enlisted men.

“My supervisors taught me professionals belong to professional organizations,” Walsh said. “I learned that early in my career. I saw the benefits.”

As adjutant general, he said likewise he encouraged guard professional to join. The association, he said, fights daily to make sure the Army and Air National Guard receive the same kind of equipment and benefits as the other branches.

“They just don’t give the National Guard the equipment that they have out of the kindness of their heart,” he said.

Walsh said he made then-Attorney General Steve Bullock aware of the investigator general’s letter when Bullock, a candidate for governor, was considering Walsh to his running mate. Bullock later picked Walsh to join his ticket.

“The governor understands that Lt. Gov. Walsh, throughout his long and decorated military career, went to great lengths to strengthen the military, the Montana National Guard and the representation our citizen soldiers and their families have in Washington,” Bullock spokesman Kevin O’Brien said Saturday.

Chuck Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena. He can be reached by email at: chuck.johnson@lee.net or by phone at (406) 447-4066 or (800) 525-4920.

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(22) comments

Leadfoot

As usual, MM has it wrong, again. However, it is not accidental. He will repeatedly bend, twist, & deny the facts in any argument that he wishes to command. He hates Daines because he is a Republican who is going to be the next elected Montana Senator & for voting the will of the Montana voters who elected him. I, like you, eagerly anticipate the next two elections. Obama & the Democrat party have broken all records for Big Business campaign contributions associated with Obama Political Paybacks that have ended disastrously (ObamaCare Website for one) , & yet MM continues to spew the lie that the Republicans care only about the rich because "it is the rich that keep them in office." Facts clearly show that the Democrats lead this category. Obama is in election-mode & is campaigning at full speed. He is so concerned about keeping these donor identities secret that the press is armed guard blocked from these gatherings. All photo-ops where Rich, Business & Industrial giants have their pictures taken with the Czar Obama, with an expensive donation cost, are photographed by Obama's hand chosen private photographer. MM, it takes a lot of nerve to continue with your distortions on an almost daily basis. Those, here, recognize you for what you are.

MARA8V92
MARA8V92

Jonny MOTL needs to look at this possible Senate appointment. Bulllock might have some second thoughts after Motl runs him through the investigation. Or maybe Motl doesn't do democrat screening? Jim.

Miss Perfect

should clarify......the BIG scandals that I mention were reported in California.

Miss Perfect

Whoops! Another state National Guard officer caught abusing his office. Dozens, including generals and colonels, have been dismiss, fired or forced to retire for double dipping on pensions, getting paid for two jobs at the same time and cheating on their promotions. It's not so much a political thing, in my opinion, it is a money thing. These organizations are a pathetic waste of monies .......just walk into any installation and look at all the dead wood sitting around, doing nothing. People would ask "Why would anyone want this for a career"......and the answer is revealed, it's good money and benefits.....very little labor involved.Were it not for this career, these deadbeats would have to get a real job (Like.......go into the REAL military). Bums.......

jus wundrin
jus wundrin

Sounds like mr. walsh would make a perfect addition to the progressive juggernaut.

PapaBear

Walsh is simply another rabid progressive leftist dem who will vote in lockstep with the dictatorial socialist president ever put in office. Just like Tester and Tax'em Max. Were he a republican, you lefties would be foaming at the mouth to rip him. Anyone who votes for any democrat these days suffers from a strange form of mental imbalance. By the time BHO is out, there may be nothing left of the nation. He did promise to "fundamentally change America." Max, Jon, and now Walsh all want to help.

brmoderate

PapaBear, the same could be said of anyone who votes for a Republican. The answer is to actually a balanced Congress with both sides well represented while representing the people and not the corporations and lawyers. You can't tell me that any of the current Republicans have our best interests in mind.

Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria

Muralist, you ate very concerned about Daines. It appears he is unbeatable. I'm going to remind you of that multiple times up until his victory.

Auditor

So, I looked up the organization. It is entirely a fraternal organization numbering almost 10% of the serving National Guard. The first year's dues are free. That Walsh was supposedly "bullying" someone into joining an organization that has no dues for first year members is ludicrous.

My guess is that some prospective political opponent was looking for something, however trivial, to tarnish Walsh's reputation, however remote. There was no personal gain for him involved. Walsh probably gave a plug for the organization at a meeting, and mentioned the group's purpose in an e-mail. The complainer then used the innocuous shout out solely as a means to attack Walsh because of his potential candidacy.

The Guard has borne a huge amount of the burden of the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have friends from various states whose close family members have been horribly injured and permanently disabled by IEDs in both countries. I can't imagine that Guard members haven't taken over a hundred thousand serious casualties between both theaters. They have been deployed over and over again, for tour after tour. Even when they're serving in domestic crisis situations, such as hurricane, tornado, fire, flood or earthquake responses, it is immensely disruptive to their family and employment situations. Because the enlistment terms far exceed those of regular military members, who can be out in a couple of years, the Guard offers unique experience and maturity to our armed forces.

The association works closely with Adjutants General from every state, D.C. and Puerto Rico to advocate for the interests of the Guard, not just its dues paying members.

The complaint was clearly frivolous, picayune, and motivated by nothing but partisan politics. That the I.G. allowed him or herself to be manipulated into issuing the over-the-top letter is nothing less than disgraceful.

Yellowdog1

Are you kidding me with this comment. The Army is not a political party, particularly when it is run by a democrat president.

Plain and simple he violated protocol with personal gain. Maybe not monetarily, but still gain.

Quit guessing and stick to the facts!

Roger
Roger

The Inspector General of the U.S. Army determined that Walsh used his position for personal gain - that's good enough for me.

monstermaker

Charles Manson would be good enough for you if he were running against a liberal.

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

Does not appear he had much personal gain in this Mr. Potter Party conspiracy theory led attack ( obviously they fear him in a run against Daines) Certainly much less gain than Daines gets from all his associations with big business etc. At least he was trying to get better equipment for the men and women of the National Guard, who were being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Not a big deal but for the conspiracy theorist Mr. Potter Party folks, a chance to find something minor against a sterling military career that is integrity vs Mr. Government shutdown because I represent Montana values Daines. Usual Rove tactics employed by the hypocrite Republicans while they take millions from their rich corporate masters.

libertarian

In the end who really cares. I get more concerned when politicians join groups like the League of Cities and Towns and the Montana Association of Counties, who work against us the citizens, in the Montana legislature and local government. These groups aren't for limited government and the protection of private property rights.

Square

in the end we and you should care, this is a straight forward abuse to position for personal gain. As the saying goes, "the more things change the more they stay the same" so if Welsh will abuse his position in the military, he would in the US Senate!

Objective observer

I'm still not sure what personal gain Walsh got from this. The article doesn't say - maybe the article should have gone into more detail as to what personal gain the 2010 report by the inspector general of the U.S. Army said he got. I'd like to know.

Run - A- Mook

Short version: Walsh was running for a leadership position in
National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS); and
used his position as a colonel in the Montana NG to coerce his
subordinates to join the group and improperly use resources to
benefit the NGAUS>

The report lists three different "substantiated allegation(s) and
conclusion(s)":
*Walsh improperly endorsed a non-federal entity (NGAUS);
*Walsh improperly used his government position for private gain;
*Walsh improperly used government resources;

www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3106227/posts

www.kxlh.com/pages/continuous-news-popout/

Auditor

Good thing getting your panties in a bunch is unlikely to be fatal.

Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria

The rules are for the peasants. Not for democrat elitists.

wondering

When the Inspector General of the Army says you used your position for personal gain that is a big deal. Why was this not disclosed during the election so the voters were aware of it?

sportscaster

Because he's a Democrat. If he was a Republican, the media would have gone nuts with this. - Bill Schwanke

CommunistCall
CommunistCall

Ah Bill, just report on a high school basketball game and leave the deep issues to the professionals.

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