After months of dismissing allegations that he owed his ex-wife more than $100,000 in back child support, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh was ordered Wednesday to provide the court with proof that he isn't a deadbeat dad.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cook County Circuit Judge Raul Vega expressed frustration when the Illinois Republican and Tea Party favorite did not appear in court along with his ex-wife, Laura Walsh.
From the Sun-Times:
Walsh’s new attorney, Janet Boyle, asked Vega “for what purpose” he wanted the congressman in court.
Vega gave her a puzzled look.
To which Boyle responded: “Mr. Walsh is a U.S. congressman.”
“Well, he’s no different than anyone else,” the judge said.
The judge then issued a "rule to show cause," asking that Walsh provide proof that he made the child support payments--or risk being held in contempt for falling behind.
“A rule to show cause was issued which makes it clear that the burden is on the congressman as opposed to on Laura at this time,” Walsh's attorney told the Chicago Tribune. “The congressman will be filing a pleading within the next couple of weeks that will set forth quite clearly what his position on all of this is.”
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 July. She contends 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.
According to the Tribune, Walsh earns $174,000 per year as a congressman, but a withholding order deducts $2,134 per month which is supposed to go toward child support obligations.
Walsh has previously called the allegations against him "wildly inaccurate" and told supporters last month that he would fight them in court.
"This is something I'm going to fight, but I'm going to do it privately and legally," Walsh said in August. "There is no way the media will get me to talk about my three kids. I won't do it!"
According to a court filing (read it below), Walsh paid only limited child support between November of 2005 and March of 2008, and stopped paying altogether after that point.
In addition to making up the back child support payments, Laura Walsh's filing asks that the congressman's various financial assets be "restrained" until he pays up; that his driver's license be suspended for failure to pay; and that he provide a full accounting of his assets from their divorce through the present day.
Laura Walsh told the Sun-Times she was pleased with Judge Vega's decision to make her ex-husband provide proof of payment.
“It’s child support," she told the paper. "Either he paid it, or he didn’t. I’m certainly pleased with the ruling today.”
Read the full filing: