ENG: William Joseph "Joe" Walsh (born December 27, 1961) is an American politician. He served in the United States House of Representatives for Illinois' 8th congressional district. He served in Congress from January 2011 through January 2013 after defeating three-term incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean by a margin of 291 votes in a surprising upset. He received little Republican Party support for his bid against Bean, but was popular with the Tea Party movement. Previously, Walsh ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and for the Illinois General Assembly in 1998. He called himself a moderate Republican in the 1990s, but he is now a conservative and a Tea Party activist.
During his first months in Congress, Walsh emerged as a sharp critic of the Obama administration, accusing the president of abandoning the U.S.-Israel alliance, and bankrupting the country. He also challenged Obama to secure the borders with "moats and alligators", if necessary. Walsh has maintained a no-compromise approach to legislating that includes rejecting any tax increases. He consistently voted against raising the federal debt ceiling and authored a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.
Walsh's district was redrawn for 2012 by the Democratic-controlled Illinois state legislature. While he initially planned to run in his newly drawn 14th district against fellow Republican Randy Hultgren, he eventually decided to run in the remapped 8th district against Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Walsh lost to Duckworth in the general election on November 6, 2012.
Early life, education, and early career
Walsh was born and raised in the Chicago suburb of North Barrington, the fifth of nine children. He graduated from Barrington High School in 1980, where he was the class president and active in sports. He attended Grinnell College then earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa in 1985. In the mid-1980s, he embarked on an acting career, taking lessons in stage, theater and television at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. He completed a Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy Studies in 1991.
Described as a "former social worker" by The New York Times, CNN, and Human Events Walsh worked with the Jobs for Youth program in the inner-city Chicago area, teaching high school dropouts basic academic and job skills.
He later taught American government and American history at Oakton Community College and the Hebrew Theological College.
Fundraising and advocacy career
Walsh's congressional website indicates he has advocated for "market-based solutions to education reform and urban poverty". He ran the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, a Chicago-based, privately funded program which grants scholarships to low-income students to attend private high schools. He raised funds for two organizations advocating school choice: the American Education Reform Council, and the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation. In addition, Walsh raised nearly $1 million over a five-year period for the Fabretto Children's Foundation, an international charity which uses education and micro-enterprise to alleviate poverty among Nicaraguan children.
Walsh also worked on state and local government policy issues for The Heartland Institute, a libertarian free-market think tank based in Chicago. He helped launch conservative organizations that seek to limit government and elect fiscal conservatives to state legislatures such as the Legislative Education Action Drive and the Americans for Limited Government.
He also did consulting work with the United Republican Fund, an Illinois political action committee helping to elect Republican state legislators.
He has also raised venture capital for a living, according to the Chicago Tribune with his campaign website indicating that he worked for Ravenswood Advisors, a Chicago boutique investment banking group which raised early-stage investment capital for new and small businesses. However, he never made much money and has pointed to salaries of $30,000 to $40,000 a year in the past. In 2010, he had a negative net worth of $317,498 according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
U.S. House of Representatives (2010–2013) - Elections - 2010
On September 28, 2009, Walsh launched an exploratory committee to run for the United States House of Representatives in the Illinois's 8th congressional district. The district includes parts of the northwest Chicago suburbs: Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Gurnee, Palatine, Mundelein, Zion, Barrington, McHenry, and Woodstock.
In February 2010, Walsh won the Republican primary election, taking about 34 percent of the vote in a six-person field and moving into the district from Winnetka, Illinois in April.
The Republican establishment refused to put much stock into the district with National Republican Congressional Committee member Tom Erickson saying, "In the primary, we had really liked Dirk Beveridge or Maria Rodriguez. Those are the two candidates who we thought really had the potential to make this a very competitive race." Walsh's campaign responded that that GOP establishment was "a bit tone deaf when it comes to independent, conservative reform candidates".
For the general election, Walsh faced incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean, who was first elected in 2004, when she defeated Republican incumbent Phil Crane. In 2006, Bean had been re-elected with 51 percent and in 2008 with 60 percent of the vote. Bean was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Herald, and the Lake County News-Sun.
Walsh criticized Bean for her 2010 votes in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and against the Stupak–Pitts Amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds to cover any part of the cost of any health plan that included coverage of abortion. He described himself as a Tea Party conservative activist. and obtained endorsements from two Tea Party organizations, conservative radio talk show host Tom Roeser, and many others.
The national Democratic and Republican parties did not compete or spend any money in the district, and the state GOP did not help Walsh. As a result, during the 2010 election cycle, Walsh's campaign raised only one-quarter as much as Bean's. He spent about $603,000 and ended the campaign about $362,000 in debt according to campaign finance reports, (with much of the debt due to post election ballot counting of the close race). As late as October, The New York Times forecast that Bean had an 88 percent chance at winning re-election. Even CQ Politics had the election as "Safe Democrat". Despite the lack of funding and his long-shot status, Walsh narrowly defeated Bean by a margin of 0.1% or 290 votes. The race was not called until two weeks after Election Day when provisional ballots were counted.
During the 2011 redrawing of Illinois' election districts by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, Walsh's home was placed in the 14th district, now represented by Republican Randy Hultgren, and the 8th district was reconfigured to favor a Democratic candidate. Walsh and nine other Republican Illinois Representatives filed a lawsuit alleging that the new borders discriminated against Republican and Latino voters. On September 21, Walsh announced that if the new district lines were upheld in federal court, he would run for election in the still heavily Republican 14th District against Hultgren.
In late July 2011, Walsh was endorsed by the Club for Growth to run against Hultgren. However, after several ethics issues regarding Walsh emerged, (such as charges of failing to pay child support, and driving on a suspended license), the Club for Growth distanced itself from Walsh, stating that it would wait until more facts were known before making a decision. In November 2011, Walsh was cited by the Family Research Council Action committee for his "unwavering support of the family".
In December 2011, Walsh decided to run in the redrawn 8th district, where he would likely face Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a former assistant secretary of the VA, in what seemed to pose a tough race for Walsh. In January 2012, the conservative political advocacy group Americans For Prosperity gave Walsh a 100 percent rating.
The ensuing campaign between Walsh and Duckworth emerged as a bitter race. At a July 2012 campaign event, Walsh accused his opponent of politicizing both her military service as a helicopter pilot and her Iraq War injuries which cost her both legs and the partial use of one arm. He said, "my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about." Walsh later suggested that she was, in fact, a "true hero," but that she should not talk about her service so frequently, and that her service should not command votes. Walsh decided to skip the 2012 Republican National Convention, distancing himself from establishment Republicans.
Walsh's campaign was bolstered by major financial support in the form of outside spending by conservative Super PACs. In September 2012 Americans for Limited Government gave $1,950,000 to the Now or Never PAC, which then spent $2,022,039 to support Walsh and oppose Duckworth. Over $6.6 million in outside spending was reported in the race, with Walsh receiving more than $6 million of that total. Overall, Walsh outspent her $7 million to $4.7 million.
On November 6, 2012, Duckworth defeated Walsh 55%-45%.
Several days before being sworn into Congress, The New York Times criticized Walsh for his willingness to accept donations from political action committees and lobbyists. After being sworn in, Walsh announced that consistent with his opposition to government-provided health care and the 2010 health care reform legislation, he would not accept congressional health care benefits.
During his early months in Congress, he emerged as a sharp critic of the Democrats' and Obama's fiscal policies, and posted a YouTube video in which he accused Obama of bankrupting the country. He also vowed, "I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town [Washington, D.C.] spends money!" He became a frequent fixture on cable TV, advocating a "no compromise" approach to deficit reduction that rejects any tax increases on the wealthy. He consistently voted against raising the federal debt ceiling and authored a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. Walsh has also said that Obama was elected "because he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that."
During the election season, Walsh was asked what his approach to bipartisanship would be if elected. He replied it would "not be the time right now to extend your hand across the aisle."
In September 2011, Walsh was among 19 members of congress criticized for ethics violations in CREW's (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) annual report.
In November 2011, Walsh was videotaped meeting with his constituents, becoming visibly aggressive and swearing at a woman who questioned him about his comment that the marketplace and the banks were not responsible "for the mess we're in right now." He later apologized for being "too passionate".
Walsh has been married twice, and has five children.
Following Walsh's victory in the 2010 Republican primary, it was reported that a bank had foreclosed on his condo and he had been evicted in October 2009, but that he and his family were living in a rented house in the Chicago North Shore suburb of Winnetka at the time. A GOP spokesman said that voters would likely identify with Walsh's financial troubles. He was also reportedly facing a lawsuit by a former campaign manager who claimed Walsh owed him $20,000 for services. and had had federal and state tax liens in the 1980s and 1990s (all paid by 2001). Walsh explained that the major portion of the past due taxes were on a college trust fund he received from his grandfather and that neither he nor his family had been aware that the funds were taxable.[ He also explained that his more recent financial struggles have made him more attuned to the difficulties faced by the average constituent.
In July 2011, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Walsh's ex-wife, Laura, was suing him for $117,437 for past due child support dating from 2005 for three of the children. Walsh allegedly had told his ex-wife that he did not have the money because he was out of work; she had later seen from his campaign disclosures that he had been employed. Walsh's attorney said that Walsh did not owe "anywhere near that amount," and that he had had no more problems paying child support than "any other average guy". Walsh and his ex-wife began working out a settlement of the disputed past due amount in late July 2011. Walsh's financial problems inspired the proposal of a bill which would forbid people owing more than $10,000 in back child support from running for office in Illinois. On April 20, 2012, a settlement was reached, and the case dismissed. As part of the settlement, Walsh issued a statement on behalf of himself and his ex-wife which read, in part, "Having resolved these issues together and cleared up these mistakes in private, we now agree that Joe is not and was not a 'deadbeat dad' and does not owe child support."
In August 2011, the Chicago Tribune reported that Walsh lost his driving privileges from mid-April to mid-July 2011 because he let his insurance lapse. In response, Walsh criticized the Tribune for "wast[ing] time and ink scrutinizing [his] driving record over the last 22 years rather than Washington's unsustainable spending".
January 15, 2013