MT Senate: Ad hits John Walsh on ethics controversy

American Crossroads hits John Walsh

John Walsh, Montana’s newly minted Democratic senator, is being hit over an ethics controversy dating back to his time as adjutant general of the state’s National Guard in a six-figure ad buy from American Crossroads, a conservative political action committee.

“Max Baucus, a 35-year legacy of service,” says the narrator. “Gov. Bulloch could have chosen anyone. Why John Walsh?”

The ad cuts away to news footage from a late-December KXLH story on the controversy, in which the news anchor reports that “a Department of Defense report says that Walsh improperly used his government position for personal gain.”

The questions about Walsh stem from an August 2010 U.S. Army inspector general report which found that the then-adjutant general of the Montana National Guard had improperly used his office for “private gain.”

“The [inspector general] report says Walsh improperly solicited other Guard leaders to join a non-governmental group, the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS),” reported KXLH-TV. “Walsh wanted to boost Montana Guard membership in that association because he was running for vice-chairman of the group.”

The report described Walsh’s emails to colleagues as “coercive” and that he had “improperly used government resources,” including his federally-issued computer, to send emails on behalf of NGAUS. The news outlet points out that one of his subordinates described Walsh’s conduct as “very threatening.”

The American Crossroads ad explains that Walsh was “formally reprimanded by the U.S. Army,” cutting away to another story which revealed that the “General writing the reprimand said the incident caused him to question Walsh’s ability to lead.”

“If they question Walsh’s ability to lead, Montana voters should too,” the narrator adds.

Walsh is also facing criticism because of the nature of his appointment to the U.S Senate. Within hours of Baucus’ confirmation to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Chian, Gov. Bulloch selected Walsh to fill out the remainder of the term in an obvious attempt to give him a boost over his likely Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Danies (R-MT) and, by extension, help Democrats retain control of the Senate this fall.

Walsh’s appointment was heavily criticized by The Missoulian, the state’s second-largest newspaper, because of the lack of transparency in the process.

“Gov. Steve Bullock should not have appointed his lieutenant governor, John Walsh, to the Senate seat vacated by Max Baucus last week,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “That he did so without even an attempt at transparency – without even the barest explanation of his reasoning to the people of Montana – is appalling.”

“Montanans must suspect that Bullock is probably keeping his reasoning a secret because his reasoning is indefensible. Without evidence to the contrary, what else can Montanans conclude but that he made a politically expedient decision to help boost Senate Democrats, rather than the decision that’s best for Montana,” the newspaper added.

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