Years before former congressman and Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh and his wife, Helene Miller Walsh, settled down in their Lake County home, the couple was nearly evicted from the McHenry house they were renting.
During his term representing Illinois’ 8th District, Walsh rented a single-family home at 2210 N. Woodlawn Park Ave. in McHenry. The couple’s lease began May 1, 2010, and expired May 2, 2011. Once the lease was up, the Walshes continued to rent the house on a month-to-month basis until Sept. 31, 2013, when they were named in an eviction lawsuit seeking $2,000 in unpaid rent.
According to the lawsuit, Walsh, named in court as William Joseph Walsh, hadn’t paid rent for July, August or September 2013. The conservative Republican claimed the lawsuit was meant to humiliate him because of his outspoken political views against McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, who at the time worked for the law firm that sued Walsh.
The former local politician turned radio host now lives in a 4,700-square-foot Mundelein home with his wife. The couple bought the property for $505,000 in 2015 and in May listed it for sale for $697,000. They took the house off the market Tuesday.
The 2013 lawsuit wasn’t the first time Walsh was challenged in court for failing to make payments. Walsh’s ex-wife, Laura, filed a lawsuit in December 2010, a month after he won the 8th District by 290 votes, alleging that he owed her $117,437 in back child support for their three children.
Walsh did not respond to the Northwest Herald’s emails seeking comment about his candidacy or the civil litigation tied to his McHenry house.
State Bank acquired the McHenry property through a mortgage foreclosure June 15, 2011. Although the Walshes lived in the house at the time, they weren’t the mortgage holders and weren’t listed as parties to the case. By the time State Bank filed the eviction suit Sept. 23, 2013, Walsh’s attorneys claimed the couple had never been served with the proper notices and accused the bank of going back on its agreement to allow the Walshes to remain in the home until the end of the month.
The attorney also denied that Walsh had entered into a month-to-month lease agreement and instead was under the belief that he was being charged $50 a day that he lived in the home after the lease’s expiration.
“The rent due as of September 23, 2013, the date on which this action was filed by State Bank, was $1,150 (if any rent was due),” Walsh’s attorney, David Giangrossi, wrote in an October 2013 court filing.
The bank’s attorney, Olivia P. Dirig, wrote in a separate letter that “the month-to-month oral lease ... was negotiated by Ms. Miller directly with the Bank.”
In an attempt to have the suit dismissed, Walsh filed a counter-complaint against the bank, alleging that Franks intentionally filed the lawsuit to humiliate and punish Walsh for his political opinions.
“The plaintiff is a bank owned in part by members of the plaintiff’s law firm, Franks, Gerkin and McKenna. One of the attorneys for the Plaintiff is Jack Franks,” Giangrossi wrote. “Jack Franks is a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 63rd District. Franks is a Democrat. Franks has been the subject of Walsh’s criticism on several occasions.”
Reached by phone Wednesday, Franks declined to comment on the allegations.
Neither the bank’s nor Walsh’s complaints made it far in court. The case was continued three times before it ultimately was dismissed Jan. 27, 2014.
Walsh announced Sunday that he would challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020. He has continued to make national headlines in the days that have followed as past inflammatory remarks and an appearance on a satire TV series have reappeared.
Walsh, 57, rode a wave of anti-President Barack Obama sentiment to a 300-vote victory over a Democratic incumbent in the 2010 election. He made a name for himself in Washington as a cable news fixture who was highly disparaging of Obama.
Walsh was criticized for saying that the Democratic Party’s “game” is to make Latinos dependent on government just like “they got African Americans dependent upon government.” At another point, he said radical Muslims are in the U.S. “trying to kill Americans every week,” including in Chicago’s suburbs.
He lost his 2012 reelection bid by more than 20,000 votes to Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. Senate four years later.
Earlier this week, Walsh announced that he lost his national conservative radio talk show in only a matter of days since announcing his bid to challenge Trump.
He also has been chided for bizarre statements he made along with other Republicans and gun rights activists on a Showtime series in 2018.
Walsh was one of a handful of politicians he claims was duped into reciting a script written for comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s satire show “Who is America?”
A clip from the episode shows Walsh explaining how an “intensive three-week kinderguardian course” would introduce “specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars.”
In less than a month, he said, “a first grader can become a first grenader.”
Walsh didn’t respond directly to the Northwest Herald, but said in an interview with The Fix this week that he does not endorse a “kinderguardian” program.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.