As governor, Brian Schweitzer said Monday he threw away the 2010 U.S. Army inspector general’s report concluding that Adj. Gen. and now Lt. Gov. John Walsh had improperly used his position in the Montana National Guard for personal gain. 

“I treated it with the respect it deserved,” the former governor said in an interview. “I put it in the round file.

“I might have said I don’t give a damn what the Department of Defense thinks. It would certainly not be the only (federal) agency that I had a run-in with.”

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.”

Walsh is one of three Democrats running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, along with three Republicans.

Schweitzer, who left office in January 2013, is not endorsing anyone in the Democratic Senate primary. Besides picking Walsh for his Cabinet, he tapped one of the other current Democratic Senate candidates, John Bohlinger, to be his lieutenant governor.

Walsh, who disputed the conclusions of the investigative report, remained as adjutant general and director of the Department of Military Affairs under Schweitzer. He was never disciplined.

“There was nothing to make of it, this suggestion that he somehow got some benefit from what he was doing,” Schweitzer said. “He got no benefit whatsoever. He’s passionate about representing the National Guard.”

Schweitzer in September 2008 appointed Walsh as the state’s adjutant general and director of the Department of Military Affairs. Walsh remained in that job until resigning in March 2012 to become the candidate for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket headed by Steve Bullock. They were elected in November 2012 and took office two months later.

In August 2010, the inspector general of the U.S. Army concluded that Walsh had improperly used his position as adjutant general for private gain. It also said he had improperly used government resources and improperly used a non-federal entity.

The investigation followed complaints from some Montana National Guard troops who said Walsh had coerced them to pay dues to join a private group, the National Guard Association of the United States. Walsh was on the board of directors of the national group and was running for — and was later elected — as vice chair-Army of the national group.

The group lobbies on behalf of the National Guard for better equipment, training and benefits.

“He (Walsh) had been in the National Guard for a long time and part of this lobbying group,” Schweitzer said. “It’s a group of officers from all over the country that want to more effectively tell the story of the National Guard.”

Schweitzer said Walsh “had been assured by legal counsel within the Department of Defense that this was wholly appropriate to contact fellow officers.”

A better story, Schweitzer said, might be how Walsh led the effort for Montana’s Yellow Ribbon campaign, which became a model of the national program.

Schweitzer said he started the program after the first National Guard soldier committed suicide during his administration, and Walsh administered it. It involves providing counseling for National Guard soldiers and their families before they are deployed and after they return. The former governor said “Walsh had his fingerprints on the program more than anyone.”

Political and state government reporter for Lee Newspapers State Bureau.

(9) comments

enu_22
enu_22

I don't believe the ARMY Inspector General is partisan. It is on par with the "Ethical Political Practices" office in civilian parlance. If Walsh solicited memberships from lower grade soldiers, either by word or deed, he shouldn't have done so. In the military, if your boss solicits you to buy chocolate bars it is a violation of ethics. On the other hand, if he displays them on his desk with a "for sale" sign, and says nothing, this is acceptable. Walsh knew better which shows poor judgement on his behalf and I have doubts as to whether I can vote for someone like that.

thewholestory
thewholestory

If Schweitzer defends/endorses Walsh, then i know Walsh is dirty.
it's as simple as that.

Sharpie
Sharpie

He got a legal opinion prior to stating his support of NAGUS. He wasn't disciplined. I don't really see a problem.

MT Guard Member
MT Guard Member

I think that most Adjutant Generals are actually generals. Seems to me the discipline he got was that he never was actually promoted to Brigadier General. The severity of his actions are probably laid out in the report and Congress had a problem recognizing the brevet promotion that Schweitzer gave him. Thus, he retired as a colonel.

caribouboy
caribouboy

It's not that he did something illegal. It's that he did something unethical. It would appear that he bullied/coerced subordinates into joining his pet project. His pet project is something that I support but that doesn't make it right. What if he was bullying people into joining Montana Right to Life or NARAL? Just because Schweitzer doesn't care doesn't mean this isn't indicative of Walsh's leadership methods.

MT Guard Member
MT Guard Member

Here's the deal. Walsh had no involvement in the Yellow Ribbon Program. I know the team who were at the heart of writing that program for the state. It became a model for the nation and parts of it were borrowed by Sen Baucus to build the law he put together for returning service members. Nicely done Mr. Baucus. Walsh's involvement in the Post Deployment Health Re-Assessment Program (PDHRA Program and previous to that, the Governor's PDHRA Task Force) began and ended with the suicide of Chris Dana. He gets no credit for building the program. In fact, I am certain that he was at Army War College during the time that the task force was working. Nice try Brian for trying to divert attention. It brings up so many memories of another way that he failed.

JoeB-NJ
JoeB-NJ

Chuck Johnson's adoration for Schweitzer has overcome his ability to practice journalism. He has ignored irregularities in Schweiotzer's campaign that may result in indictments of his top campaign managers. Check out http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013112160001&nclick_check=1. Aside from the "dark money" issues,the hiring practices described in the article should outrage every Montanan. Of course, Gov. Bullock followed suit and mainatined the status quo. What can we expect from John Walsh? Certainly no jobs for Montanans, but jobs for those with the $$$. To say that the IG was partisan ignores the fact that the incident occurred under President Obama's (Democratic) leadership.

DEllsberg
DEllsberg

Maybe if Brian hadn't 'circle filed' the letter and actually read it he would have found that there was substance there. I know many if the guardsmen who were directly affected by Walsh and his minions who sought out and knew who the whistleblower was. He saw to it that the unit the service member was in went through heck. How does a rapid response unit go from being one of the top four in the country to dead last? Reprisal, that's how. The unit has been decimated. That is how Walsh operates and it has always been so. Doesn't surprise me that the gov and former gov are jumping to his defense. If they don't support him it would be an indictment of their leadership.

otis mule
otis mule

Schweitzer gave it the "respect it deserved" because the little tyrant had no problems using the State's resources for his own purposes. See the Milk River Ranch aka Lost River WMA aka The Brian Schweitzer Memorial.

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