The IG Gets One Right – and Gets Ignored

| January 2, 2014

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.

Category: Military issues, National Guard, Politics

Comments (18)

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  1. 15DAZNG says:

    What is up with all the National guard acting a fool lately? First all the shenanigans with the Arizona guard and now this?!

  2. AW1 Tim says:

    Someone ought to forward copies of this report to every newspaper, radio & TV station in Montana. I’m sure that SOME of them, at least, will find it interesting.

    These United States already have too many jackwagons in DC. We don’t need a political whore like Walsh to be sent there and add to our nation’s misery index.

  3. Beretverde says:

    “The higher up you go…the higher the standards ” Sadly, another incident blows the aforementioned leadership priciple away. No excuse! I wonder what would happen if a Captain or a MSG was doing the same?

  4. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I do hope the good people of Montana consider all this on election day, for me this is a simple thing to consider. Walsh is either a liar when he states he didn’t consider himself a DoD employee (the smart money sits in this position) or Walsh is so f#cking stupid he actually believes he was not a DoD employee. In either of those scenarios there is no good reason to cast a vote for such a man.

    Unless of course Montana really needs another liar or dumb4ss to represent their interests in DC in which case have at it.

  5. crewchief guy says:


    hey, we cant let those active duty types take all the good scandals! we have room for scandals in our budgets as well.

    we dont want big dod squeezing us out of the shame game like so many other programs.~sarc

  6. O-4E says:

    As a Guard AGR Officer and former Brigade NGAUS Rep (I cringe at the thought)…

    The same thing happens in every state to some degree or another

    But having spent 13 years in the RA…9 as an EM/NCO and 4 as an Officer…I do remember my OER counselings, from my Battalion Commander, starting off by asking if I was a member of AUSA

  7. Green Thumb says:

    This is just but one thing with this guy.

    Both he a CAPT Zinke (SEAL/RET) have been scrutinized for wearing uniforms while on AD status to garner support at political fundraisers; Walsh more than Zinke.

    Walsh has also ducked some tough questions concerning health care for Vets in MT while serving as the TAG and LT Governor as well.

  8. OWB says:

    @ #6: Thanks. My memory is the same as yours. Reading the article, I wondered exactly how what he said and did differed from the umpteen lectures I got over the years about joining NGAUS. Membership was voluntary, sort of.

  9. Green Thumb says:


    I hear you.

    he ran with Bullock, the former MT AG under the Democratic ticket.

    Bullock was a real piece of work. And he dodges Veteran’s issues.

    And Walsh is currently eying a larger political seat…..

  10. SFC D says:

    Ft. Huachuca. Entire battalion spends the afternoon in the theater getting trained on “ethics”. No soliciting allowed for Girl Scout cookies, charities, professional organizations, political organizations, etc. No use of official email for said activities.
    1 hour after the training concludes, I receive an email from the NETCOM CSM drumming up support for AUSA.
    He was in the theater at the same time I was. Sometimes the upper levels just don’t understand the rules apply to them as well.

  11. Sparks says:

    @4 VOV you said better than I. Glad they caught him and I hope this comes out when he starts stumping in Montana.

  12. Don H says:

    The interesting thing that I found was that he hadn’t received Federal recognition–in other words, the Federal Government hadn’t approved his being a flag officer. It’s the reason the IG refers to him as “Colonel,” and his signature block was “BG (MT).” I wonder, given this, if and when he was granted Federal recignition.

    I’ve got to say that the last time anybody tried to strong-arm me into joining something was in the early ’90s. My seniors might ask if I had ever considered joining organization X, Y, or Z, but never asked if I ever had, and certainly never counselled me on it or asked me if I had ever joined. I never joined AUSA until I was a Colonel, and I never asked anyone I knew or who worked for me if tehy were members, either. The most I would ever do was send out luncheon announcements for the Society of American Military Engineers, and then always with the qualification “no pressure, but I thought you might find this speaker interesting.”

    This guy, on the other hand, had to go to the trouble of having somebody (and I bet it wasn’t him) compare a membership roster from NGAUS and the officers roster from the MTNG, and figure out who was or wasn’t a member. And then find their e-mails, prepare a message, etc. That took a lot of work. And then he directly targeted those people who hadn’t joined, even sending personal and specific e-mails to people who asked not to be bothered any more. That took a lot more work. This wasn’t a simple “oops, I kind of overstepped my bounds,” this was leaping over them.

    Contrast that to LTG Huntoon, the Superintendant of West Point, who had to reimburse the Army for time his staff spent working on events at his government quarters which were in support of the West Point Foundation, which raised funds to supplement the DOD appropriation, and arguably could be considered directly mission related, since it was to support the Academy (although, obviously, the DAIG disagreed).

    If you ask me, the only partisans here are the governor and lieutenant governor of Montana. And I hope taht thier opponents feel free to use the information liberally.

  13. Don H says:

    and, @4, the IG report says that he was a GS-14 military technician on weekdays. It’s prety hard to argue that you’re not a government employee when you get a check from the Federal government every other week.

  14. Eric says:

    Without even knowing, I’ll bet ten bucks he has a (D) behind his name, which is why DoD isn’t doing jack or shit to him for it.

    Oh and then he’s going to be a Senator? Another Shocker…

    If he had an (R) behind his name, his name and photo would be on every newspaper and TV news station in the country every night (mostly to keep Obamacare out of the news still).

  15. Hondo says:

    Eric: actually, best I can tell DoD did all it could. The DAIG investigated him formally, substantiated the misconduct, documented that misconduct in an ROI, and forwarded that ROI to his supervisor (the then-Governor of Montana) for appropriate disciplinary action. It was the then-Governor to whom the ROI was delivered who chose to can the ROI and do nothing.

    I believe that’s colloquially known as “having good top cover” – or, alternately, having a well-placed patron. Must be nice.

    The Army Times article I linked indicates the guy’s political affiliation. It’s not really relevant to my article, so I didn’t list it. But your guess as to his party is accurate.

  16. Eric says:

    Good to know, thanks for the further info Hondo.

    I’ve honestly not had much faith in the IG over the past 20 years. I went to them with a pay problem once, with documentation showing where someone screwed up and I didn’t get paid properly and they basically told me it was my fault, in a memo, TWICE.

    Regardless, the IG’s only there to recommend to the commander, so no matter what they say, the commander (in this case the Gov) telling them to pound sand doesn’t surprise me one bit. (which is further reason why I don’t have much faith in them.)

    As far as his party, I just see the fishiness of it due to the fact that’s how the MSM works. I guess I’m just cynical in my younger-old age.

  17. Mike says:

    In my Guard Unit it was the last station during the annual SRP drill. you weren’t required to join but they laid the guilt trip on thick by talking about the benefits such as tuition fee waivers that got put through politically. Often they’d let you out of drill a few hours early if you signed up. Does the extra ink required to sign off that slot on the checklist qualify as a violation?

  18. Green Thumb says:

    Walsh has stepped up his “feel good about me” commercials; charities, NPO’s, etc.

    Maybe one day he can pull his nose out of Bullock’s ass concerning issues that are screwing Vets.

    Class act he is.

    Call his office and ask about his stance on Vet issues.

    It is worth your time.