Walsh, the Montana Democrat tapped to replace Sen. Max Baucus when he was appointed to become the ambassador to China, is a decorated Iraq veteran who served more than three decades in the Army and then the National Guard.
The senator, now 53, attended the War College and earned his master's at the age of 46. But his final paper, a 14-page document titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy," was found to be almost entirely lifted from other sources, including his concluding recommendations, according to an investigation published by the New York Times.
The investigation found that Walsh copied -- nearly word-for-word -- significant portions of documents from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the National Endowment for the Humanities, a 1998 Harvard paper, a 2003 Foreign Affairs article, the State Department website, a 2005 War College paper, and the Journal of Democracy, which were improperly attributed or unattributed altogether.
Walsh appears to have benefited directly from this paper, and his degree, earning praise and a promotion to adjutant general of Montana's National Guard from the governor in 2008.
Approached at his office Tuesday, before the publication of the report, Walsh denied intentional wrongdoing. On Wednesday, an aide said the senator had been going through a difficult time while completing the paper, as one of the soldiers in his unit had committed suicide in the weeks before the paper was due.
Walsh is not the only senator to be caught plagiarizing this term. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was accused in December of lifting portions of speeches and columns from sources ranging from Wikipedia to the Heritage Foundation. With his name regularly floated in 2016 conversations, Paul seems to have shaken off any lingering implications from his own scandal.