About 20 protesters gathered earlier today outside the Fox Lake office of 8th District Rep. Joe Walsh to exhort the congressman to meet his financial obligations to his children after it emerged earlier this week that his ex-wife has sued him for child support.
"We want him to pay his child support," said protest organizer Jeanne Marie Dauray, of Round Lake, a member of Catholics United. "We encourage him to be a responsible father and a responsible member of Congress."
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Walsh's ex-wife, Laura Walsh, filed a lawsuit in December claiming the congressman owes more than $117,000 in child support to her and their three children, now ages 23, 20 and 16.
Dauray's mother, Mary Jean Kelley, also of Round Lake, said her ex-husband failed to pay child support while her two daughters were growing up. "(Walsh) is ignoring the needs of his children, just like he is ignoring the social needs of the district," she said.
Walsh is currently in Washington, D.C., dealing with the budget issue, but District Director David Carlin took a letter from the protesters and said he would deliver it to Walsh.
"When you learn the other side, you'll learn that the congressman has been a good dad, and has been meeting his financial obligations," Carlin said.
Walsh, who has made cutting government his crusade, has charged that the timing of publicity about the issue is political, coming just as Congress is at the crisis point in talks on avoiding a debt default.
Protesters also said they oppose Walsh's stance on cutting government benefits like Medicaid to balance the budget. On Friday, Walsh voted against Republican House Speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending because he didn't believe it went far enough.
Kim Kearby, of Round Lake, a member of Progressive Democrats of America 10th District, said she is worried about people who will be hurt by cuts.
"This is not just about us, but about the future. What is going to happen to my four sons when their Social Security is due?" she said.
But Joe Schwan, of Invanhoe, said he supports Walsh, whose policies he views as fiscally responsible.
"In my household, when I need to pay more expenses, I don't go out and get one more credit card," Schwan said.