CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), the McHenry Tea Party member who has catapulted to the national stage with his straight-talk approach and sometimes biting rhetoric, says he’s being “pummeled by the media” over allegations he owes years of child support.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, Walsh says his ex-wife is lying about not receiving some of the more than $117,000 in missing child support funds she says he owes.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports

He tells the Daily Herald his ex-wife, Laura Walsh, is trying to exploit his new position as a member of Congress.

Walsh admits he did not pay child support between March 2008 and December 2010, but tells the newspaper that he and his ex-wife had a verbal understanding that they would divide their children’s expenses.

Walsh is asking a Cook County Circuit Court judge to deny his ex-wife’s request to increase child support payments, suspend his driver’s license, and freeze his bank accounts, the Daily Herald reports. He is also asking to be reimbursed for legal fees.

Currently, $2,136 in child support payments is being taken monthly from Walsh’s Congressional paychecks, the Daily Herald reports.

In September, Walsh was ordered to prove that he made the child support payments. Circuit Court Judge Raul Vega said at the hearing last month that he was going to issue a “rule to show cause” why Walsh shouldn’t be held in contempt for falling behind on child support over the past five years.

The effect of that ruling was that, instead of Laura Walsh having to prove the congressman owes the money, the burden shifts to the congressman to prove that he doesn’t owe money, according to attorneys for both Walshes.

Walsh did not attend the September hearing, although his ex-wife did. When Vega asked Walsh’s attorney, Janet Boyle, why the Congressman was not there, she asked “for what purpose” he wanted Walsh in court, given that “Mr. Walsh is a U.S. congressman.”

“Well, he’s no different than anyone else,” the judge said at the hearing. Vega said he expects Rep. Walsh to show up at the next hearing, in November.

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