Club for Growth backs away from Walsh

Rep. Joe Walsh's (R-Ill.) ethics problems could cost him the support of the deep-pocketed, fiscally conservative Club for Growth.

The Club for Growth put out a statement in late July promising to "enthusiastically support" Walsh, a freshman who led the charge in the House for a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and against an increase in the debt ceiling earlier this summer, in his likely primary against fellow freshman Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.).

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But soon after the endorsement the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Walsh was being sued by his ex-wife for more than $100,000 in unpaid child support and had driven on a suspended license.

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola told The Hill that if the reports were true, they might not support him after all.

"We said that if he ran in the 14th then we would likely endorse him. But character matters. If these are real issues, we don’t know what the answer is. He has said this isn’t true, but when it comes time to make a decision, character matters," Chocola said on Tuesday. "Walsh has been a leader on the issues, and when you look strictly at his votes and at his policy positions he’s great. But character matters and we’ll learn what the facts are on him."

Walsh would likely have started out with an advantage over Hultgren in the primary if not for his ethics issues — his push on the debt ceiling and numerous cable television appearances had made him a Tea Party star and gave him a fundraising boost.

But if he is giving ideologically aligned groups like the Club for Growth pause, Walsh could be in real trouble.