Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) on Wednesday said his post-traumatic stress disorder might have contributed to him unintentionally plagiarizing his master’s thesis.
“I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," Walsh told The Associated Press. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."
Walsh told the AP that, at the time of writing his thesis, he was on medication and seeing two doctors, as he dealt with the recent suicide of a fellow veteran. He said he developed PTSD from serving in the Iraq war.
Walsh copied sections verbatim from a paper from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a 2009 book called The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, and a paper from a Harvard research institute.
He first told the Times he “didn’t believe” he had plagiarized the thesis, and his spokesman Lauren Passalacqua said it was an accident.
"This was unintentional and it was a mistake," she said. "There were areas that should have been cited differently but it was completely unintentional.”
This comes after Walsh’s military record was questioned in January, when records indicated he had pressured guardsmen to join a private association where he was pursuing a leadership role.
Walsh was appointed to his Senate seat in February, to succeed former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to China.
The plagiarism incident could seriously hurt Walsh’s election bid in the race against Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in November.