Over the weekend, freshman Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) vowed to "privately and legally" fight claims by his ex-wife that he owes more than $100,000 in child support. He insisted that he wasn't a deadbeat dad, but as Talking Points Memo reported Tuesday, if he owes even a fraction of that amount, he could be in hot water with the House Ethics Committee.
According to TPM, Walsh did not include any child support debt on his financial disclosure forms, which require politicians to list any liability worth more than $10,000. To avoid the probe, Walsh could file amended forms including the child support, but owning up to the charges could be a political nightmare.
"I have been accused of not being a wonderful dad, and I am going to fight that charge," Walsh told a crowd at a town hall meeting in suburban Barrington over the weekend. (Scroll down for video) "But I am going to fight that charge privately, quietly and legally. "
Walsh's ex wife, Laura Walsh, filed the claim against him in December as part of their divorce case, saying he owed $117,437 to her and their three children, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in late July. She claims that Walsh loaned his own campaign $35,000 and took international vacations but said he couldn't afford child support payments because he was between jobs or out of work.
Walsh's attorney, R. Steven Polachek, denied that the congressman owed $117,437 in back child support and interest and said the amount was much less.
"I dispute that he owes the child support that she's claiming or anywhere near that amount," Polachek told the paper. "Joe Walsh hasn't been a big-time wage-earner politician until recently - he's had no more problems with child support than any other average guy."
Before the child support story came to light, Walsh was making rounds on cable news shows speaking out against the president and accusing him of lying about the impact of not raising the national debt ceiling. He also consistently accuses Democrats of being unable to manage their finances.
"Technically, he could be taken to task by the Ethics Committee or even the Justice Department for failure to file proper disclosure forms, but in all likelihood the Ethics Committee and Justice would be satisfied if Walsh were to file amended forms," Public Citizen's Craig Holman told Talking Points Memo.
The congressman's alleged financial problems made headlines while he was campaigning last year, when former campaign field director Richard Cape claimed he would "spend, spend, spend uncontrollably." His campaign manager quit and sued for $20,000 in nonpayment, and two other staffers who quit accused him of not properly disclosing a 2008 home foreclosure and traffic citations to the public, taking their grievances public. Walsh also bounced checks, including one to a Republican fundraiser.
WATCH part of Walsh's town hall meeting in Barrington here: