A Cook County judge has dismissed a child support suit against Congressman Joe Walsh now that the McHenry Tea Partyer and his ex-wife say they are resolving the dispute on their own.
At a news conference at Illinois Republican headquarters in Chicago Thursday, Walsh said he promised Laura Walsh, who did not attend the event, that he would keep the terms of their agreement private.
But the congressman said after months of reporters "gleefully" writing about the issue, he wanted to tell his side of the story.
Since the story broke in July, Walsh said, "every single day I would go to bed wanting to scream."
Asked if his ex-wife's claims of late child support payments were completely false, Walsh said, "I don't know what part of 'I have never been a deadbeat dad' is (not clear)."
A joint statement released by Joe and Laura Walsh regrets both the "public misunderstanding" and the effect it has had on their children.
"Like many families, we have had our share of issues and made our share of mistakes over the years," the statement reads. "We now agree that Joe is not and was not a deadbeat dad and does not owe child support."
Both parents, it continues, have been loving and devoted to the three children ages 24, 21 and 17 -- "and are happy to avoid a public legal fight hurtful to our entire family and look forward to caring for our children in private."
Walsh and his wife, a nonpracticing attorney who works for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, had been married for 15 years before their 2002 divorce.
The suit, filed in December 2010, contended that Walsh was in contempt for "failure and refusal" to pay full child support from November 2005 through December 2010 for his three children. With interest, those payments total $117,437, Laura Walsh said in the suit. Walsh later responded with a 31-page filing accusing his wife of exploiting his position as a congressman by lying about not receiving some of the missing child support funds she said she was owed.
Walsh admitted he did not pay child support from March 2008 to December 2010, but says he and his former wife had a verbal understanding that they would divide the children's expenses and neither would pay the other child support.
Laura Walsh's attorney, Jack Coladarci, directed questions to Walsh's office Thursday.
Walsh, who is facing Democrat Tammy Duckworth in a nationally watched bid for a second term, makes $174,000 a year as a congressman.
Right now, $2,136 in child support is being taken every month from Walsh's congressional paychecks. Laura Walsh will continue to receive those payments, per the court, until their youngest son, graduates from high school. He is currently a senior.
Duckworth Thursday was quick to criticize Walsh for "failing to meet his responsibilities" -- describing Walsh's financial troubles, which include several tax liens and a home in foreclosure, as a pattern.
Walsh said he has been very open about his past, calling his opponent "graceless."
But he has declined to discuss the child support case in recent months, saying Thursday he "made the decision early on that I would not discuss this case in public, and chose instead to fight these charges privately."
He called Thursday "a good day for me, personally. It's a good day for my kids, the mother of my kids."