The Department of Defense has taken the unusual step of overseeing a plagiarism investigation being conducted by the U.S. Army War College against Sen. John Walsh of Montana, the college's provost said Tuesday.
The department will decide whether any discipline is warranted based on the recommendations of the school's academic review board, Provost Lance Betros said.
Normally, that decision is reserved for the school's deputy commandant. It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for the Defense Department to intervene in a student misconduct case, he said.
"Because this is a member of Congress who is a military veteran, we have been given instructions from DOD that they have jurisdiction in this case," Betros said.
The public affairs office for the Defense Department and its inspector general's office did not immediately return calls for comment. Walsh campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua did not have an immediate comment.
The college referred the case to its five-member academic review board after a New York Times story last week showed Walsh, a Democrat, used others' work without attribution in a 2007 research paper required for a master's degree.
Betros said Walsh has until Aug. 15 to turn in any material in his defense, and he may request to appear before the board.
"I'm very confident within a week we'll have this wrapped up," Betros said. "It should not take long."
The college will send the review board's findings to the Army's inspector general's office, which will forward them to the Defense Department's inspector general's office, Betros said.
"From there, I don't know who will make the decision," he said.
Walsh is running to keep the Senate seat he was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become ambassador to China. The former Montana adjutant general is running against Republican Rep. Steve Daines.
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