Sexual Harassment Charges Fly in Daines-Walsh Montana Senate Race

Retired Staff Sgt. John Bennett of Cascade, Mont., was paralyzed when sniper fire punctured the shoddy plywood roof shielding on his National Guard Humvee.

“Congressman Steve Daines never served, so he probably doesn’t know that when the Montana National Guard went to Iraq, the Pentagon treated us like second-class soldiers,” Bennett says in the ad titled “Plywood.”

Walsh’s campaign staff said National Guard soldiers went to war in Iraq with substandard vehicles and equipment compared to their active-duty Army counterparts.

Walsh was elected to the position of vice chair for Army of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), where, as an unpaid volunteer, he advocated for better resources.

His campaign staff claims Walsh and NGAUS fought for increased funding for equipment – especially as the Army National Guard took on a greater role in homeland security missions abroad.

In 2005, only 40 percent of the required equipment was available to National Guard service members. After fighting for more funding, Army National Guard equipment levels are now at 90 percent.

As he motions to his wheelchair in the “Plywood” ad, Bennett concludes: “John Walsh went to bat for us. He ruffled feathers in Washington, making sure other Guard soldiers had the right equipment so other Montanans don’t have to spend the rest of their lives like this ever again.”

Ironically, if there is one issue on which Daines and Walsh agree, it is Iraq. Both have come out strongly against sending U.S. troops back into combat in that country.

In the U.S. House, Daines voted to prevent sending more American troops into Iraq on June 19.

The measure, which would prohibit the use of funds for conducting American combat missions in Iraq, was introduced as an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee (Calif.).

"I strongly oppose sending more American troops to Iraq and believe only Iraqis can secure their future,” Daines said. “Iraqi leadership must address the concerns of their citizens from all sects and ethnicities, and Iraqi Security Forces must fight against al Qaeda-linked forces with urgency and resolve.”

Daines also voted for an amendment pronouncing that the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq does not authorize new military operations in that country and has strongly insisted that the president closely consult with Congress and seek necessary authorization as decisions regarding the United States' role in Iraq are made.

Walsh, the only Iraq War combat veteran serving in the U.S. Senate, spoke on the floor June 18 and said it was time for Iraq to secure and defend its own nation and urged the president and Congress to remember the "costs of war."

“I stand here today as a veteran and the father of a veteran, and we fought in a war that Washington began based on false information – a war that ended and from which we must move on,” Walsh said. “I’ve seen war firsthand, and like too many Americans families, I’ve seen the costs of war up close. It is now time for the Iraqis to secure and defend their own nation."

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)