Ill. Rep. Walsh settles with his ex-wife over unpaid child support

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and his ex-wife have reached an agreement to end the court case over whether he owed her more than $100,000 in unpaid child support, Walsh's campaign announced Thursday morning.

"We both regret this public misunderstanding and the effect it has had on our children," Walsh and his ex-wife, Laura Walsh, said in a joint statement. "Like many families, we have had our share of issues and made our share of mistakes over the years. Having resolved these issues together and cleared up these mistakes in private, we now agree that Joe is not and was not a 'deadbeat dad' and does not owe child support. 

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"We both have been loving and devoted parents to our children, ages 24, 21, and 17, and are happy to avoid a public legal fight hurtful to our entire family and look forward to caring for our children in private."

It is surprising that Walsh uses the term "deadbeat dad" in the statement, as it seems to draw attention to Democrats' attacks on his character rather than diffuse them.

The drawn-out court case had become an embarrassing and politically dangerous distraction for Walsh in his uphill battle to retain his seat. It is unclear what agreement Walsh and his ex-wife reached to end the ongoing legal battle.

Walsh was a surprise winner in 2010, beating Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) by a narrow margin. He quickly became a Tea Party favorite because of his fight against raising the federal debt ceiling last fall, but Walsh fell out of favor with the movement's leaders. The fiscally conservative Club for Growth, which once planned to support him, backed away from the race after the child support allegations surfaced.

His district became much more Democratic in redistricting, making it much harder for him to win reelection. Walsh will face former Veterans Affairs Department Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth (D), a favorite of President Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), in the fall.