In July, the press learned that Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), a Tea Party freshman in Congress, owed $117,000 in unpaid child support to his ex-wife. Walsh, despite earning a hefty salary as a member of Congress, has continued to refuse to pay his ex-wife to support his children. Now, it appears, an influential Christian right lobbying group is lending some support to the deadbeat congressman.
The Sun-Times reports that the Family Research Council, a social conservative advocacy nonprofit headed by CNN pundit Tony Perkins, has awarded Walsh a 100 percent rating as a “True Blue” member of Congress. The FRC said it gave the honor to Walsh because of his “unwavering support of the family”:
“We thank Cong. Walsh who has voted consistently to defend faith, family and freedom,” said FRCA President Tony Perkins. “Cong. Walsh and other ‘True Blue Members’ have voted to repeal Obamacare, de-fund Planned Parenthood, end government funding for abortion within the health care law, uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, and continue support for school choice. I applaud their commitment to uphold the institutions of marriage and family.”
“I am proud and honored to be recognized by the Family Research Council as the only member from Illinois with a 100 percent pro-family voting record,” Walsh said in a news release. “Defending American values have always been one of my top priorities, and this reward reaffirms my dedication to that fight.”
Despite their very poor understanding of what the term “pro-family” means — the Family Research Council was recently designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of their virulently anti-gay views — they are disturbingly influential among conservative lawmakers. Their legislative arm’s annual “Values Voters” convention drew such speakers as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) this year.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Walsh’s failure to pay child support isn’t even his only failure to look out for the basic needs of his own family. As Marie Diamond noted for ThinkProgress a few months ago, “Walsh also rejected the congressional health insurance plan for his family on principle, much to the chagrin of his current wife, Helene, who had a preexisting condition and needed surgery while the couple was uninsured.”
Recently, a judge rebuked Walsh for failing to even show up to a court hearing about his missed child support payments, telling the Chicago-area lawmaker that he doesn’t deserve special treatment and that he’s “no different than anyone else.”