Did you hear about the Joe Walsh, a Republican Congressman from Illinois, who has not paid his child support? It’s true. A federal lawmaker has given the stiff arm to his children. He has repeatedly avoided his court appearances claiming to be in D.C. performing his official duties. Meanwhile, unemployed fathers are subject to being jailed for failing to make child support payments.
Impoverished and can’t meet your child support obligations? Tough luck, you’re going to jail. Just like the notorious days of the 19th Century debtor prisons, thousands of parents across the country who fail to pay court-ordered support for their children are facing jail time — most for purposely or spitefully withholding or hiding cash. Unfortunately, according to advocates for the poor, other parents are being jailed wrongfully with no consideration for their actual ability to pay, and often these truly poor parents have no lawyer to represent them. In Floyd County, Georgia, a 39-year-old war vet found himself incapable of paying support last November and was sent to jail for violating a court order. The judge completely disregarded his history of making regular payments for over a decade before he lost his job in July 2009. He had only recently begun working again. The Floyd County vet spent three months in jail before his release. He is one of six plaintiffs who filed a class-action lawsuit in March seeking to force the state of Georgia to provide attorneys for impoverished, non-custodial parents facing imprisonment for failing to make child support payments.
Congressman Walsh, a Tea Party freshman, was outed last night by Lawrence O’Donnell, on his MSNBC show The Last Word, as a child support scofflaw. O’Donnell vowed that he would never have Rep. Walsh as a guest until he cleared up his child support arrears. He also urged other talk show hosts to do the same.
Apparently, Rev. Pat Robertson didn’t get the memo. Perhaps he was too busy absolving spouses who divorce spouses with Alzheimer’s. Because last night, Walsh was on the 700 Club extolling his support of the State of Israel. Absent was any mention of his failure to pay for the support of his children.