A Republican congressman who regularly appears on television touting fiscal responsibility owes his own ex-wife more than $117,000 in unpaid child support, according to court filings.
U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-McHenry, seemed to come out of nowhere when he was swept into office in November backed by Tea Party activists to represent the 8th Congressional District in Chicago’s north and northwest suburbs.
Since then, Walsh, 49, has appeared on television lecturing President Obama and other Democrats on the need for the U.S. to curb spending and pay its bills. He has repeatedly blamed Obama for bankrupting the country.
More recently, he has become the unofficial spokesman for the faction of Republicans who refuse to compromise on raising the debt ceiling if it includes any provisions that would raise taxes on the wealthy, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He’s expressed this position in numerous cable TV appearances in the last few weeks.
According to divorce papers filed by his ex-wife, Linda Walsh, in December, she claims he owes $117,437 in unpaid child support and interest for their three children. She has tried numerous times to get the judge to garnish his wages and suspend his driver’s license until he pays her the outstanding money.
Joe Walsh’s attorney, Steven Polachek, called the debt claim “unfounded.”
“I dispute that he owes the child support that she’s claiming or anywhere near that amount”, Polachek told the Sun-Times. “Joe Walsh hasn’t been a big-time wage-earner politician until recently – he’s had no more problems with child support than any other average guy.”
Walsh, who earns $174,000 a year as a U.S. congressman, denounced the Sun-Times story, calling it a “hit piece” and retaliation for being so outspoken during the debt crisis, CNN reports.
Joe and Laura Walsh had been married 15 years when she filed for divorce in December 2002. Since then, she has spent nine years and numerous court filings trying to collect child support for their two sons, ages 23 and 16, and a daughter, age 20.
Joe Walsh, now remarried and living in McHenry, has admitted that he has suffered financial problems, including losing his Evanston condo to foreclosure. He claims his monetary woes have been nothing more than those suffered by the average American.
The next court date in the child support case is scheduled for Sept. 14 in Cook County Circuit Court’s Domestic Relations Division.