John Walsh plans to name names to get bill named after son reauthorized
© Brendan Kownacki

Frustrated by the gridlock in Congress, John Walsh is headed back to Capitol Hill. And this time, the former longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host says he’s ready to name names in order to get lawmakers to reauthorize a bill named after his son.

“The Adam Walsh Act is stuck in that morass of Capitol Hill that’s only focused in on who’s going to be the next president,” Walsh says. “So I’m now going back to what I did since 1981, since my son was murdered: To walk the halls, and get senators and congressmen to get it out of committee and get it reauthorized. It was passed unanimously.”

Former President George W. Bush signed the federal statute, which created a national sex offender registry, in 2006. The bipartisan legislation was named for Walsh’s 6-year-old son, who was murdered after being abducted from a Florida shopping mall.

Walsh plans to lobby lawmakers in the coming weeks to reauthorize the act.

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“So I go back to saddle up, because everybody’s so obsessed with this vitriolic gridlock. Republicans hating and dissing Democrats. Vice versa. Government’s ground down to a halt. I think Americans don’t realize how bad it is. It’s the worst I’ve seen it since 1981,” exclaims Walsh.

ITK recently caught up with the television personality and host of CNN’s “The Hunt” at an intimate dinner at the newly opened Cities Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Washington. Publicist Janet Donovan, Hollywood on the Potomac and Cities owner Michael Kosmides hosted the event. Walsh was in town spreading the word about the Justice Network, where he serves as spokesman.

The face of the digital multicast network touts the fact that the outlet airs photos and information about missing children every hour.

“Now that ‘America’s Most Wanted’ is off the air, parents of long-term missing children have no resources. They have nowhere to go,” Walsh recalls of what he told Justice Network execs at their initial meeting. “'I want you to run pictures of missing children every hour. I know it’ll cost advertising time,'” Walsh, the co-founder of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, told them.

“And they went, ‘That’s a good idea.’”

So far, Walsh says, there have been 27 recoveries of missing kids, whose photos have been shown on the Justice Network since January, including one direct recovery.

Beyond his role with the new network, Walsh says he intends to go on a media blitz, making the cable and network news rounds to get the word out about lawmakers who aren’t on board with the reauthorization of the act.

“I’m going to name your name. I’m going to say, ‘You are Senator so-and-so, or you’re a member of the House, and you’re holding it up.’ That’s the only way to do it, to really call them out.”

Lawmakers, says Walsh, all too often play the blame game when he meets with them at the Capitol. “You’ll go and see them and they say, ‘She’s holding it up. He’s not getting the hearing for it. And he hasn’t called. Thanks for coming, Mr. Walsh. You’re a great guy, an American institution.’”

“And I go, ‘Bullshit. It’s in your committee. You’re up for reelection,’” Walsh exclaims.

When asked by ITK what the solution to the gridlock on the Hill is, Walsh, 69, replies bluntly, “Get them the hell out of there.”

Term limits, he says, could ease the impasse in Congress.

Some lawmakers, he says, “They got people making decisions for them, they’re in a coma. There are guys that have been there too long. It should be based on how much good legislation you can get passed, you know, what you’re really doing up there, not that ‘I want to be senator or congressman for life.’”