The Defense Department and the Department of the Army will be reviewing the plagiarism allegations against Sen. John Walsh of Montana, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army War College, where Walsh allegedly used the work of other people in his 2007 thesis for a master's degree.
The school said that because Walsh is a member of Congress and a former military serviceman, the Defense Department's Office of the Inspector General has authority to review the investigation.
"We have an obligation to send that package [with the relevant academic review board materials] to the DOD IG to perform its independent and objective responsibilities," Army War College spokeswoman Carol Kerr said. She added that it was “completely in line” with existing policies for Defense Department and Department of the Army officials to conduct such a review.
The Army War College will continue its own academic investigation.
Defense Department officials and Walsh’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Walsh, a Democrat, is a decorated Iraq war veteran who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in February by Montana's governor after Sen. Max Baucus resigned to become ambassador to China. Part of Walsh's political appeal was his military service record in the conservative state.
Last week, after the plagiarism allegations emerged, the Walsh campaign issued a lengthy statement defending his scholarship and listing more than a dozen military honors he had received.
"This story will not change Sen. Walsh's commitment to his campaign, and it does not change his resolve in dealing with the issues that matter most to Montanans," Lauren Passalacqua, a campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Walsh is accused of failing to attribute several sections of a 14-page paper he submitted to earn a master's degree from the Army War College. He is accused in some cases of lifting, word for word, passages on U.S. Middle East policy that had been published in other publicly available documents.
The plagiarism allegations, first reported by the New York Times, prompted the college to open an investigation.
“The Army War College has initiated the process and will continue to investigate the plagiarism allegations,” Kerr, the war college spokeswoman, told the Los Angeles Times in an email on Tuesday. “The [War College] academic review board will make a recommendation ... and after several layers of review ... the deputy commandant of the Army War College makes the decision about disposition.”
It was not immediately clear what consequences a Defense Department review could carry.
Times staff writers Mark Z. Barabak and Michael A. Memoli contributed to this report.