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updated: 10/11/2012 9:13 AM

Suit takes center stage in Walsh-Duckworth fight

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  • Republican Joe Walsh and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, candidates in the 8th Congressional District, debated at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows on Tuesday night.

       Republican Joe Walsh and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, candidates in the 8th Congressional District, debated at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows on Tuesday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Joe Walsh on issues

  • Video: 8th District Debate

  • Video: Tammy Duckworth on issues

 
 

At Tuesday evening's raucous 8th District debate in Rolling Meadows, Congressman Joe Walsh repeatedly referred to a wrongful termination suit naming his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, when she was director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Duckworth described the McHenry Tea Partyer's claims that she unfairly fired an employee in her department as "simply not true" -- a statement Walsh's campaign has construed as Duckworth lying to the public.

In reality, the January 2009 wrongful termination lawsuit filed in Union County against Duckworth and Anna Veterans Home administrator Patricia Simms -- which was distributed to audience members at Tuesday's debate at the Meadows Club -- was dismissed because there were "not sufficient facts in the case," according to the Union County Clerk's office.

A second similar complaint subsequently was filed and is pending. The lawsuits against Duckworth and Simms were filed by plaintiffs Christine Butler and Denise Goins, two Anna Veterans Home employees.

The amended complaint was not immediately available.

Duckworth, at a news conference following Tuesday's debate, described the suit as the type "common to a head of any agency."

Furthermore, in a statement Wednesday, Duckworth's campaign spokeswoman Kaitlin Fahey said "Tammy was added to the suit because of her job title as director of the agency."

Butler's and Goins' attorneys did not return request for comment. Walsh's campaign spokesman, Justin Roth, said he was unaware that the complaint had been amended.

The original complaint alleges that Duckworth and Simms "without legitimate cause or justification" fired Butler from her position at the veterans home in 2007. Goins, in turn, alleges that she served as a whistle-blower and then received an unfairly tough performance evaluation that resulted in her being denied pay increases and bonuses.

Walsh has faced several lawsuits himself, including one in 2010 alleging he owned his former campaign manager $20,000. He also was sued by his ex-wife, who charged that he failed to pay close to $100,000 in child support payments. The latter was later resolved outside of court.

If Congressman Walsh, Fahey charged, "wants to discuss lawsuits, he has had countless lawsuits filed against him personally ...(and) has proved to voters over and over that he is a financially irresponsible deadbeat."

The 8th Congressional District includes portions of Kane, Cook and DuPage counties.

The race has attracted national attention and seen heavy spending by both sides.

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