Ex-congressman's wife appointed to seat of legislator who resigned amid sex scandal
Helene Miller Walsh, wife of former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, was sworn in Saturday to replace a Republican state representative who resigned amid accusations he unlawfully posted nude photographs of an ex-girlfriend on a fake social media account.
Miller Walsh, 59, of unincorporated Lake County near Mundelein, received the nod from local Republican leaders to serve the balance of Nick Sauer's term in House District 51, which expires in January. She will seek election to the seat in November against Democrat Mary Edly-Allen of Libertyville and possibly independent Jay Murphy of North Barrington, whose candidacy is facing legal challenges.
Sauer, a first-term Republican from Lake Barrington, resigned Aug. 1 after he was publicly accused of posting the nude pictures of the former girlfriend on the bogus Instagram account and luring men into graphic discussions through what's known as "catfishing." House District 51 includes central and southern Lake County and a section of Cook County.
Miller Walsh, who has never held public office, was sworn in for the state representative seat Saturday by Lake County Circuit Judge Christopher Stride. She said "someone from the Fremont Township area" who's known her for about nine years, as well as others, approached her about replacing Sauer.
Describing herself as an independent conservative, Miller Walsh said fixing Illinois' public employee pension crisis and reducing the property tax burden are among her issues.
"I'm really angry about what's going on in this state," Miller Walsh said. "People are leaving and have already left. I'm tired of what's going on."
She also said that, as a legislator, she wants to help the black community. Miller Walsh is a five-year advisory board member at Project H.O.O.D., an inner city nonprofit organization started by Pastor Corey Brooks in 2012 to help people become peacemakers, problem solvers, leaders and entrepreneurs in their communities.
"We all want the same thing, ultimately," said Miller Walsh, a lifelong Chicago-area resident. "We all want to be able to live our lives with a lot less government interference. And we are responsible for ourselves. We're no different up here in Mundelein than they are on the South Side (of Chicago)."
Lake County Republican Party leader Mark Shaw said Miller Walsh was selected to replace Sauer because she'll not only represent residents well in the General Assembly, but she'll also be capable of "putting a campaign together virtually overnight." He said Miller Walsh's travels to many parts of Illinois will benefit the legislature.
"She really understands the different viewpoints of people from across the state," Shaw said.
Joe Walsh, a Republican who lost his congressional seat to Tammy Duckworth in 2012, now works as a nationally syndicated political radio talk show host, television commentator and speaker. He said he'll campaign for his wife, who runs his business interests.
"When people came to her, she said to me, 'You know what, I've got a chance to do my part to fight for Illinois,'" he said. "I think she'll make a great candidate because she's the epitome of a citizen legislator. She ain't a professional politician, that is for sure."