Governor Schweitzer on John Walsh: “A Wonderful Leader”

Governor Schweitzer has weighed in on the report from the Army Inspector General about John Walsh, calling it a partisan smear not worth the paper it was printed on:

Schweitzer called the inspector general’s report “much ado about nothing” and ignored it.

Schweitzer blew off the investigative report as “a completely partisan end run in the National Guard attempting to embarrass him (Walsh).”

“Whoever it is in the Montana National Guard that’s trying to stir this thing up, they ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Schweitzer said. “He was a great adjutant general, a wonderful leader and Montana ought to be proud that he led Montana soldiers to war.”

Local conservative blogger Jackie Brown at The Western Word agreed that the story was only “earth-shattering to people who never served in the military.”

While partisan primary opponents and sad, anonymous, conservative Twitter accounts are attempting to make a mountain over this most insignificant of mole hills, even national  conservative blogs like Powerline recognize the story doesn’t have legs:

As scandals go, this one seems relatively harmless. But Walsh, if he’s the Democrats’ nominee, faces an uphill battle against Daines.

There’s the real truth. Walsh will face a challenge against Steve Daines, who will be well-funded and unwilling to say much of anything during the campaign. People interested in defeating Daines, should, as Schweitzer notes, focus on discussing John Walsh’s leadership of and advocacy for the National Guard, his work on suicide prevention for returning soldiers, and his service in Iraq.

84 comments
Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

Update . . . . . .All those encouraging Montana voters to focus on John Walsh’s leadership abilities may want to look at the latest in Walsh’s continuing drip, drip, drip campaign of bad judgment revelations. The new revelation discloses the Inspector General report finding Walsh violated federal codes of ethics referred the matter to the Army Judge Advocate General which resulted in Walsh receiving a "memorandum of reprimand". Confronted with this, “Colonel” Walsh now admits his promotion to Brigadier General was denied due to the formal letter of reprimand in which General Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army said Walsh’s “….actions were unacceptable, inconsistent with the conduct expected of our senior leaders" and stated Walsh’s "failure to adhere to Army Values causes me to question your ability to lead." Also noteworthy is that he is the first leader of the Montana National Guard not to receive a promotion to General in the past 25 years. Drip, Drip, Drip. http://missoulian.com/news/local/critical-review-blocked-walsh-from-promotion-to-army-general/article_60f69ea0-809a-11e3-a859-0019bb2963f4.html

Abe Froman
Abe Froman

Norma, please stop trying to help. Your convoluted attempted legal explanations make no sense and actually cause a headache when attempting to read. Pogo Possum is clearly some kind of state gop spin doctor and needs a more caring touch to be refuted.

Norma Duffy
Norma Duffy

Dear Pogo, A finding of Fact is not a trial. Let me say this again for you RWers who have no Idea what a finding of fact is. It only decides if something is out of place regarding law. It is not a judgement whatsoever. it does not resolve both questions of law and fact. .......Only a trial does that. If the military went no further than an investigative report.... the issue is now moot! Please remove your head from you underwear, and move along Please!

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

Simple answer Don. An Inspector General does not have authority to impose punishment. An IG Report is a finding of fact. It is left up to the military service person’s commanding officer to decide and issue or not issue punishment after being presented with the IG report. Walsh’s commanding officer was Governor Schweitzer who bragged about throwing the IG report in the trash. It was Democratic Governor Schweitzer, not “the military” who had authority and made the decision not to punish fellow Democrat John Walsh.

Moorcat
Moorcat

One last comment and then I will leave this alone. Don, you asked me what I wanted. The short answer is this - Give me a man that will lead us when we are shit deep in alligators (an obscure Navy saying) and I will follow him into hell. Give me just another stuffed suit and I am not interested.

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

Part of Walsh’s defense is that he did not receive personal gain. The Military Times does a better job than most of the Montana papers explaining why the Inspector General report found he did in fact receive personal gain: http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20131231/NEWS02/312310011/Investigation-Pol-misused-adjutant-general-position ”The investigation followed a complaint by a National Guard officer that said Walsh used his position as head of Montana’s Department of Military Affairs and his government email to pressure subordinates to join the National Guard Association of the United States. Walsh was seeking to be nominated as vice chairman of the private association and wrote that his opponent would likely bring up the low membership of Montana National Guard troops in the association as an issue, the report said. Subordinates who did not join received a follow-up email that said he was concerned those subordinates “do not support my priorities which is to improve the readiness of the MTNG which NGAUS clearly does,” according to the report. The Defense Department’s ethics rules prohibit an endorsement of a non-federal entity such as the National Guard Association of the United States by department employees in their official capacities. DOD employees also are prohibited from endorsing membership drives or fundraising for non-federal entities, and cannot use their position to coerce another person to provide any benefit to themselves. The report says Walsh incorrectly interpreted the rules to determine that he was not a DOD employee and that he incorrectly believed the association was not a non-federal entity.”

Moorcat
Moorcat

One of the disconnects people commenting here have about this story is a lack of understanding how the military - especially the military justice system - works. In the civilian world, if you feel wronged, you file a complaint. That complaint is yours and you are attached to it from the beginning to the end. This is an example of "bottom up" justice. In the military, it is exactly reversed. The original complaint has no value. The military is entirely a "top down" structure that is done that way to maintain discipline and the chain of command. It doesn't matter who made the original complaint. The complaint has no meaning until the Inspector General's office issues the official complaint and it's findings. The investigation, the judgment and the discipline is all "top down". The officers and enlisted men that came forward about General Walsh's activities are nothing more than evidence in a top down investigation. IF this was a hatchet job (as many here are alluding to), then it was a hatchet job done to Walsh in the Inspector General's office (or higher...). I have a hard time buying that for many reasons, but the most important one is that what Walsh did (which, btw, he hasn't denied he did) in endorsing and actively aiding a private organization is most definitely against military rules. Even if he did not do it for personal gain (and the report is pretty specific that it was), it is still breaking the rules. It doesn't matter if the organization he was carrying water for is a great organization - it is still against the rules. As an analogy - If you rob a bank and then donate the money to a worthy charity, your charitable act does not mitigate your criminal act. This is the issue that many following this story are struggling with - especially those of us that have been in the military. We KNOW that what Walsh did is a violation of the UCMJ - regardless of whether we agree with his actions or not. You can dress this up any way you want to, but unless you really understand the UCMJ and military protocol, you can't understand why this is a big deal.

Craig Moore
Craig Moore

Pogo-- General Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army said Walsh’s “….actions were unacceptable, inconsistent with the conduct expected of our senior leaders” and stated Walsh’s “failure to adhere to Army Values causes me to question your ability to lead.” That rebuke is devastating to and claims of "wonderful leadership." Now for Schweitzer to write a letter pleading the case for Walsh's advancement only to be denied sorta puts the lie to Schweitzer's claim that he threw the IG's report in the trash when he received it. No respect there. For Walsh to claim this is not a big deal is also disrespectful. Two generals signed the IG report. James Connor wrote a post about this current matter. http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2014/jan_feb_2014/2014-01-20_walsh_retired_without_star.html Remember, Walsh put on the pressure to join so that he, Walsh, would stand a better chance of being anointed for high position with the non-govt. entity.

Mark Tokarski
Mark Tokarski

PP - you are overlooking Walsh's most impressive qualification for office - it seems to have slipped right by you. You wrote"Drip. Drip, Drip," but what readers here see is "D, D, D." The rest can be, is, overlooked.

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

For what it is worth Abe, while I definitely lean strongly Republican, I have no official capacity with the state or national GOP party or political PAC, nor am I coordinating any comments with any campaign. I am just someone who has been around a long time and has close friends across the political spectrum including Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and a few old New Party members. On occasion I like to either express an opinion, share information that has come my way, or simply try to interject some facts and reason into Montana’s blogosphere that I see more and more sadly deteriorating into a snake pit of intentional ignorance, rudeness, one upmanship and childish name calling aimed at fellow commentators. I am often impressed with the quality of some of the participants I see on many sites. A few regulars come to mind. Moorcat always provides excellent, insightful, well informed and well reasoned contributions to any blog room he enters. James Conners has a well written blog that provides interesting perspective and insight. Lizard strives to present his opinions and advocates for his causes with honest passion and a unique blend of editorial oratory and politically tinged poetry. He is generally courteous to visitors and isn’t afraid to go against the grain and criticize his own party. Best of luck this New Year, Abe. It should be an interesting year for Montana politics.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

I think your standards are going to make it hard to find a candidate. The "personal gain" and "coercion" alleged in this case is laughable. I'd guess no candidate will measure up to what you're looking for, but I could be wrong.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

And that slightly more detailed reporting still shows that it's entirely inconsequential. Your long quote left this out, too: He was not disciplined for the violations, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported. It seems like the Army IG followed its procedures, issued a ruling, and basically said "this doesn't matter." Just like Montana voters will.

Moorcat
Moorcat

I would also point out that this story will have the most impact on Walsh's strength - his military background. This state is very "Veteran Heavy" and it is the veterans that will understand this story the most. If you wanted a cookie cutter attack on a candidate with military experience, this was made to order. I will withhold any further judgment until Walsh has had a chance to directly address it (beyond his current dismissal). If he does continue with his denial and dismissal of this issue, I will be very disappointed.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

I think you might be misunderstanding my point. It's certainly possible that Walsh committed some technical infraction, as the report indicates. That doesn't mean the initial complaint wasn't partisan hackery over an issue that, while technically a violation, wasn't uncommon among commanders in the military. The facts that a) the military didn't punish Walsh, b) that Governor Schweitzer wasn't concerned about it, c) that Governor Bullock's team didn't think it was serious enough to disqualify Walsh from consideration as Lt. Gov, and d) that Rick Hill didn't make a real issue of it in his spare no slime campaign all suggest it's just not that serious. Sure, Walsh's political opponents are and will continue to try to use it to hurt him. I just don't think it's going to matter.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

Craig and his earth hater buddies are in full crisis mode: Montana’s Senate race is already shaping up to be among the most-watched in the country. And Friends of Max Baucus has already made several sizable donations to political groups: $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C.; $50,000 to the Montana Democratic Party; $25,000 to the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and so on. Additionally, Baucus’s Glacier PAC has spent thousands more in donations to the campaigns of other Democratic office-seekers. Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who is campaigning for Baucus’s Senate seat, is one of them. His campaign received $10,000 from Baucus’s political action committee. http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/editorial/missoulian-editorial-baucus-keep-war-chest-out-of-election/article_3afdcde4-82a3-11e3-b2c6-0019bb2963f4.html

Moorcat
Moorcat

And this may well be the punchline that is being saved.

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

"The “personal gain” and “coercion” alleged in this case is laughable." Glad you and Walsh saw something funny in it. I didn't see any evidence that the military officers who conducted and issued the IG report were laughing. I asked a few of my JAG acquaintances and they didn't see anything laughable about it either. Again, it's this type of dismissive arrogant attitude and blaming military subordinates that may cause Walsh more harm than the original act. Drip, Drip, Drip

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

Look and spin an much as you want, Don, but the IG report never said or even suggested that "This didn't matter." You might want to re-read Moorcat's comments on this issue. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, this one issue by itself, is not going to be "the" deciding factor in either the Primary or General election. But it does show a growing pattern of poor judgment and management decisions by Walsh and it becomes part of the drip, drip, drip of revelations that will be harder and harder for voters to ignore.

Moorcat
Moorcat

I have already stated what I think he should do. I think he should admit that what he did was wrong, but stick with his assertion (rightly... ) that the organization he was carrying water for is a beneficial organization for military members with a long history of supporting our men and women in uniform. NOTHING would diffuse this issue faster than that - let me explain why. In the military, at the end of the day, everything is resting on the shoulders of the men and women at the top. If something goes wrong in a command, the commander of that command is ultimately responsible - whether he really is or not. There is a time to admit a mistake and for a commander, doing so can actually strengthen his command. This is one of those times. To ignore this makes Walsh look more politician than General and since being a General is his strength, it is a bad decision for him. I would have nothing but respect for Walsh if he did so. I am personally tired of "politics as usual". I want to see a real leader I can get behind and vote for. At this point, Walsh is not looking like that to me.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

I'm curious what would make you happy. What would you want him to do?

Moorcat
Moorcat

I didn't misunderstand your position, Don. I really didn't. You may well be right - I have admitted that possibility. What I am concerned with is that there is no such thing as a "technical" infraction in the military. This is something you just don't get. The rules in the military are cut and dried for a very good reason - it is the only way to maintain discipline and confidence in the chain of command. I completely understand that Bullock, Reid and Schweitzer have dismissed this issue. I think that is simplistic, but that is my opinion. As far as Hill, I have already stated my opinion on that. Hill did try to use this story and it gained no traction because the campaign wasn't about Walsh - it was about Bullock. It wasn't "juicy" enough for Hill (in part because I don't think he understood the significance of it any better than most of the commenters here do). I will be "juicy" enough for Daines, though. Of that I am absolutely certain.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

What happens in the Columbia River watershed is out my control, Craig but war is coming in the Missouri basin. When we are ready to tell you, you will know.

Craig Moore
Craig Moore

Kurtzie, define in US $$$ what you mean by "pretty good money." Tell us how this will swing the election.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

Btw: the Powder River Training Complex is on my political radar and stopping it forces me into Montana's politics so get used to it through the session and to November.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

Craig: the nominees for our party in Montana are going to get pretty good money from me and your trolling only stiffens my resolve.

Craig Moore
Craig Moore

Kurtzie, actually your point wobbles and falls over. Irrelevant.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

Just doing my part to pack the courts to block your oligarchs, Craig. My point stands.

Craig Moore
Craig Moore

Kurtzie, What's with the "our guy" when you live in New Mexico. BTW, Walsh's wounds are self inflicted. See http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2014/jan_feb_2014/2014-01-20_walsh_retired_without_star.html Still no serious Walsh campaign website Walsh, incidentally, still doesn’t have a website worthy of a campaign for the U.S. Senate. It’s still a one-pager with a photo of Walsh with his head in the clouds that asks visitors for their contact information and money. And that’s all it does. It’s an egregious abdication of Walsh’s responsibility to present the voters with his stands on the issues.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

Kenneth, regardless of whether James Conner believes Walsh has thrown a shoe, right now he's our guy: we can either call the farrier or let the Moores of Montana try to put a bullet in his head.

Moorcat (K Kailey)
Moorcat (K Kailey)

Let's be upfront - very few readers of this site are going to vote for Daines (including me). What you are saying won't effect Daines' campaign in the least. What is true, is that many of the readers here MIGHT vote for Walsh and unless you can start giving us a reason to do so, Walsh will never win against Daines.

Moorcat (K Kailey)
Moorcat (K Kailey)

Larry, all you say may well be true but unless Daines opens his mouth and inserts his foot to the knee like Burns and Rehberg did, no one is going to see it. Daines is doing a wonderful job of campaigning given that he is the presumptive winner. All he has to do is make appearances at the proper places, shake a few hands, make some conciliatory speeches, and he will win - especially if Walsh doesn't get on the ball and start campaigning. Daines is pushing the right buttons with the right people to ensure a victory and Walsh is AWOL from his own campaign.

larry kurtz
larry kurtz

Daines is a white supremacist, a Koch-head and unfit to serve Montana in US Senate. You can bet he was on Dick Cebull's email distribution list then covered it up: sad that he could be your nominee, Craig.

Craig Moore
Craig Moore

Kurtz did you mean to call Jackie Brown an earth hater? http://thewesternword.com/2014/01/21/mt-senate-2014-drip-drip-drip/ The Lee Newspapers reporter also added a little salt to the wound writing that the one-star general rank was, “a rank all other Montana National Guard heads have achieved the past 25 years.” Ouch. I explain it this way: Walsh wore the one star of brigadier general and the state recognized him for it, but the feds did not. He was not paid as a one-star general, but as a colonel. Governor Steve Bullock who picked Walsh as his running mate appeared on MTN news and crashed and burned trying to explain the situation. Bullock’s “bob and weave” and the rhythm of his delivery reminded me of Jeff Foxworthy getting ready to deliver a “you might be a redneck” joke. Bullock is a pretty terrible public speaker – just a notch or two above Sen. Max Baucus. So now what? It seems almost everyone on the left has endorsed John Walsh for U.S. Senate. It’s going to take several million dollars to change the negatives of Walsh – money that he may not be able to raise. This issue needs to go away and go away quickly for Walsh to mount a serious campaign against Daines. By the way, as of this morning nobody has filed to run for U.S. Senate in 2014. March 10 is the last day to file. Meanwhile, Republican Steve Daines can sit back and watch the Walsh show, and count the checks that are rolling in for his senate campaign. Right now about all Daines needs to do is to be careful not to throw Walsh and the Democrats a life preserver.

Norma Duffy
Norma Duffy

Kinda doubt it, If it was just a reprimand. Speculation about losing a job he might not have been personally vying for in the first place is all this is.... Speculation Yeah see, My opinion is that Walsh has already gotten Max's spot. That's one of the very reasons he isn't saying anything yet for campaign rhetoric. He walks in a blank page, to the senate, while Daines campaign staff goes for all the old reliable tea party crap of fear-mongering and hating Obamacare that's losing even here. Steve is painting himself into a corner, he cant get out of. Walsh's people are happy to sit idly by and say nothing, while he does it.

James Conner
James Conner

I think most people would consider a reprimand punishment. He wasn't fined or reduced in rank, but he was issued a stinging reprimand that called into question his ability to lead. That blocked his path to flag rank. I think by any practical measure he was punished. Whether he should have been punished for parking ticket genre misstep is a different question. Walsh, by not handling this well, has compounded the damage to his campaign. I now fear he's lost too much blood to have the strength to win.

Norma Duffy
Norma Duffy

Correction: This is partisan bullshit by the republican Party, or maybe just maybe... Even John Boligers Campaign Pure and simple!!!!

Norma Duffy
Norma Duffy

I believe the un-named officer flung a little dirt Not knowing he would have to back his bullshit up in a court proceeding. That he would be cross examined. Not knowing Walsh would be able to produce evidence on his behalf.... and Bolted! This partison bullshit by the republicans Pure and simple!!!!

Norma Duffy
Norma Duffy

In anything past the Investigative report, the Un-named officer would have to divulge his name. If you want to speculate more honestly. lets say the particular unnamed officer was unwilling to be cross examined in a court of law. That his story would fall apart on the witness stand. That is more probable in this case!

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

Walsh stayed in the military after the report. Speculating about punishment he received not only seems unfair; it ignores that reality. I'm also pretty sure his approach would be very different if he had actually been punished, given someone's willingness to disseminate private military records for political gain.

Moorcat
Moorcat

Don, that seems to be the $64,000 question, doesn't it? Did Walsh take a deal to retire? Was there some kind of closed door reprimand? No one knows at this point. NONE of the information on this story claims that the Army felt it "was no big deal". That has been and continues to be an assertion by you and others on the left. I have a hard time accepting that this was "no big deal" given what I have seen with my own eyes of the military justice system.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

I have no idea who you are and that's my point. Why would anyone believe your claim to have spoken to a number of "JAG acquaintances"? You resorted to that because you can't explain why, if this was a serious matter, the military did nothing. Answer that. Why no punishment for Walsh?

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

Now you are pretending to know me and pretending to know who I know and don't know. Again, a sign you are not doing well. Give it a rest Don. You are better than this.

Pogo Possum
Pogo Possum

Just a suggestion Don........when you have to resort to defending your position by criticizing someone's screen name it's a sign you aren't doing very well.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

There is nothing more laughable than someone who posts under the name Pogo Possum pretending that he has sources that confirm his position. Once again, while this is complicated, the military did not impose any punishment. You can't dispute that. Non-issue, no matter how many times you repeat the same argument.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

Thanks for the input. Your insight into politics is always valuable.

Craig Moore
Craig Moore

Don this post 'Governor Schweitzer on John Walsh: “A Wonderful Leader”' is yours. Any waste of time comes from you and other Dem partisans whining about the IG report as reported in the press and attempting to make it partisan rather than the professional military document that it is. The report came out in 2010. Second, it's not Schweitzer that gets to define the leadership of Col. Walsh, but rather the soldiers he lead,solicited and coerced.

Greg Strandberg
Greg Strandberg

Yes, if my inbox over the past couple hours is any indication of what Montanans have to look forward to over the coming months from both parties than I really need to open a headache medicine business.

Don Pogreba
Don Pogreba

You are the one desperately trying to spin this. I honestly hope Republicans spend A LOT of time on this nonsense. It won't get them anywhere. I understand why a conservative would want to distract people from Steve Daines's terrible voting record. You're just going to have to do better than this.

Trackbacks

  1. […] a privately funded support and aid group to those enlisted in the National Guard. The report states that Walsh improperly used his position to solicited membership for the group and contends that Walsh intimidated members of his command into joining. This finding occurred in 2010 before Walsh retired and ran for the Lt Governor seat. How this issue will effect Walsh’s candidacy remains to be seen. Many on the left are saying that this issue is a minor one and won’t have any impact. […]