Ex-wife says Tea Party congressman owes $100,000 in support

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 28, 2011 6:34 PM
Ex-wife says Tea Party congressman owes $100,000 in support

By Eric Johnson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Tea Party-backed U.S. Congressman who has lectured the U.S. government about getting its financial house in order owes more than $100,000 in child support payments, a lawyer for his ex-wife said on Thursday.

Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who was narrowly elected in a Chicago suburban district during the Republican sweep of 2010, denied the allegations and said he would fight them in court.

His ex-wife Laura Walsh failed to receive full child support for about five years from 2005 to late 2010, her lawyer Jack Coladarci told Reuters.

Walsh resumed full payments to support their three children after he was elected to the Congressional seat, which pays a salary of $174,000 per year, the lawyer said.

"These latest attacks against me are false and I will fight them in the appropriate venue," Walsh said in a statement on his web site, referring to the Cook County courtroom where Laura Walsh brought the case. The divorce documents detailing the apparent delinquent payments were first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The attorney for Laura Walsh said the congressman needs to make good on the $117,437 he owes, plus interest.

"Laura is getting help now because he has a job where we can find him," Coladarci said. "But it is difficult to raise three kids, and she is not remarried, and she is supporting them basically on her salary."

The case focuses on unpaid child support between November 2005 to roughly December 2010. During that period, Walsh made partial payments between November 2005 and March 2008, but stopped in April 2008 and did not resume payment until he started to receive a paycheck from the House, Coladarci said.

The suit also alleged that Walsh and a girlfriend took international vacations while Walsh said he was too broke to pay child support, Coladarci said.

Laura Walsh filed for divorce in December 2002 after 15 years of marriage. The case alleges Walsh paid $1,000 a month short of his commitment for 28 months during November 2005 to March 2008. Walsh allegedly paid nothing from 2008 until resuming in late 2010.

His ex-wife has asked the court to garnish Walsh's wages.

The 49-year-old Walsh called himself "the tip of the spear" in the fiercely partisan debate over how to avoid a U.S. default on its debt. Tea Party supporters want deep government spending cuts and some oppose raising the nation's ceiling on debt under any circumstances.

Walsh has repeatedly excoriated U.S. President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers for what he deems profligate spending.

"I won't place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money," Walsh said in a policy video directed at the President entitled 'Walsh to Obama: Quit Lying.'"

(Reporting by Eric Johnson; Editing by Greg McCune)