Rep. Joe Walsh's (R-Ill.) ex-wife has taken him to court for $117,000 in unpaid child support, as first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Walsh has emerged as a crusader for fiscal discipline and a vocal opponent of raising the debt limit. His ex-wife filed court documents in December alleging he owes her $117,000 in unpaid child support for their three children. In the lawsuit, she asked the court to suspend his driver's license until he pays her.
Joe Walsh’s attorney, R. Steven Polachek, called the claim "unfounded," and Walsh himself pushed back against the report as a political "hit piece" in a statement Thursday afternoon.
"It is not lost on me that a court case filed almost 8 months ago regarding a marriage that ended more than 8 years ago would be brought up today. We are 72 hours away from one of the biggest decisions our country has to make about its financial future," Walsh said. "I understand why this is a story and why the media has to ask me about it. I understood as a candidate, and I understand as a sitting member of Congress that the scrutiny of my personal life will be intense. This is a tough business. It’s also not lost on me that not everyone agrees with me politically, I am the tip of the spear in this current debate, and I will be attacked."
Walsh has had financial troubles before, having had a condo he owned foreclosed on. He allegedly told his ex-wife, Laura Walsh, that he could not pay her child support during his campaign because he was between jobs, according to her attorneys. But they point out that Walsh loaned his campaign $35,000, and has repaid himself approximately $14,000 of that so far.
Laura Walsh has taken him to court on this issue before, and at one point a judge threatened to garnish his wages if he did not pay up.
Walsh won by just 290 votes in 2010 in a suburban swing district. A letter from the freshman member slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) plan to allow President Obama to raise the debt limit ended up with 86 co-signatories, and he has become a regular guest on cable news networks.
Walsh's reelection prospects are better than many of his fellow Illinois Republicans. Democrats in the state passed a redistricting map that slices and dices Republican districts and could force the retirement of as many as six House Republicans, but while Walsh's old district is greatly altered, he still has a path to victory. Walsh plans to run in a new, heavily-Republican district in exurban Chicago near his home. He will likely face off in a primary against fellow freshman Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren.
This story was updated at 12:40pm to include Walsh's statement.