Montana Sen. John Walsh's thesis written to earn a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College contains unattributed passages taken word-for-word from previously published papers.
The Democrat is running against Republican Rep. Steve Daines to keep the seat Walsh was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
The apparent plagiarism in Walsh's 2007 thesis, titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy," was first reported by The New York Times in a story posted online Wednesday afternoon. Walsh submitted the paper to earn his Master of Strategic Studies degree nearly two years after he returned from Iraq and about a year before he became Montana's adjutant general overseeing the state's National Guard and Department of Military Affairs.
Walsh's campaign said the senator did not intend to plagiarize and that he would speak to The Associated Press later Wednesday.
"This was unintentional and it was a mistake. There were areas that should have been cited differently but it was completely unintentional," spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua said in a statement. "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."
The 14-page paper, reviewed by the AP after the Times posted its story and graphics online, includes a series of unattributed passages taken from the writings of other scholars.
The first page of the paper borrows heavily from a 2003 Foreign Affairs piece written by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a 2009 book by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer called "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror."
Sharansky is a former Soviet dissident and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
One section of the paper is nearly identical to nearly 600 words from a 1998 paper by Sean Lynn-Jones, a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.
All six of the recommendations that Walsh lists at the end of his paper are taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie paper written by Carothers and three other scholars at the institute.
Justin Barasky, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the committee remains "100 percent behind Sen. Walsh."
"John Walsh is a decorated war hero, and it's disgusting that Steve Daines and Washington Republicans are going to try denigrate John's distinguished service after multiple polls show him gaining," Barasky said. "Steve Daines should immediately denounce these latest smears and call for an end to all attacks on John Walsh's record protecting Montana and serving his country.
Alee Lockman, a spokeswoman for Daines, said Wednesday she had just seen the Times' report and did not have an immediate comment.
© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.