Improper endorsement of a non-Federal entity. Use of government position for private gain. Improper use of government resources.
Those sound like fairly serious issues, IMO.
Such were the findings of a 2010 DAIG Report of Investigation (ROI) concerning the then-Montana Adjutant General (and now Montana Lieutenant Governor), John Walsh.
Walsh apparently had ambitions of being elected to national office within the National Guard Association of the US (NGAUS). But Montana’s membership rate in the NGAUS was fairly low at the time. So Walsh decided to do the following:
- Pressure subordinates to join the NGAUS and the Enlisted NGAUS (ENGAUS).
- Tell his subordinates to make the NGAUS and ENGAUS priorities and that supporting these organizations was a “readiness concern”.
- Use Federal resources to do the above.
- Use his staff to perform administrative duties related to the NGAUS.
Walsh’s justification for doing this? He “interpreted the rules to determine that he was not a DOD employee” and because it “was my time and my own resources in a lot of cases”.
Um, Walsh? Horsedung. Even if you were ARNG vice RA or USAR, there’s these little matters called “Federal recognition” and “Joint Ethics Regulations”. You were using Federal resources (official DoD e-mail and DoD-funded staff) in violation of law and regulation. The NGAUS and ENGAUS are not Federal entities, so the Joint Ethics Regulations – which are binding on ARNG personnel as well – forbid both endorsement of and encouragement/coercion of subordinates regarding joining non-Federal organizations.
And doing this just so you could “get ahead” in the NGAUS politically? That’s pretty damn low in my book.
All of that is also outside the scope of your official duties at the time – Montana AG. So there’s also the question in my mind of whether or not you were neglecting your primary duties while pulling this stunt.
No, the dollar amounts weren’t large, and the conduct here wasn’t as egregiously bad as some we’ve seen. But the behavior is still completely unacceptable in any senior military official.
His boss at the time didn’t seem to mind, though. Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says he trashed the DAIG ROI when he received it because it was ““a completely partisan end-run in the National Guard attempting to embarrass him (Walsh).” Walsh received no punishment for his wrongdoing.
Oh, really? Well, here’s the redacted DAIG ROI concerning the matter. It’s short (9 pages), direct, and to the point. Read it for yourself and see if it sounds like a “partisan hit-piece” to you. It certainly doesn’t to me.
Walsh is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Baucus this year. Sounds to me like he’ll fit right in in DC – if he’s elected, of course.
Hopefully the good voters of Montana place a bit more value than Walsh does on ethics and integrity, and he never finds out just how well he’d fit in.