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Man accused of paying off politician for new child support bill

If you are a powerful business owner who pays child support, is it ethical to pay off a lawmaker to push through a bill that would cut your payments substantially? That is what one affluent GOP supporter is attempting to do in Minnesota's neighboring state of Wisconsin. The man, who has not been able to secure child support reduction under existing law, simply decided to provide financial backing for a lawmaker who agreed to push for changes in the child support system. The man, who is the president of a large financial lending firm, has already donated thousands to local politicians, including a $15,000 payment to the governor of the state.

Attorneys for the man's ex-wife have accused him of effectively buying 'justice' by paying lawmakers to rewrite state statutes. Lawmakers deny that the pending bill was fashioned specifically for the business owner, however, saying instead that child support reforms benefit a large number of constituents in the area. Still, other lawyers who have helped draft the bill are under the impression that a single interest was being served when the document was proposed.

Official reports show that the man, who had been the mayor of Columbus, filed for divorce from his wife in 2010 after they were married for six years. An arbitrator upheld the couple's prenuptial agreement, which allowed the man to retain $30 million and refused the woman spousal maintenance. However, child support was granted at a cost of $18,000 per month, based on the man's $1.2 million income in 2010. Since then, the man has sought financial relief, arguing that his annual wages have dropped to just $231,000.

Judges in the case have denied changes, arguing that annual income is largely irrelevant for someone with such a massive estate. Additional information associated with the case points to the fact that the man has effectively paid off legislators to promote a bill that would reduce his child support payments; records related to the bill's creation were recently released to the public.

Child support agreement modifications can be admittedly difficult to obtain in some circumstances. Instead of turning to unethical political maneuvers, payers may be able to seek financial relief through a fair legal process. Ultimately, child custody and support agreements should be designed with the best interests of the child in mind, rather than the preferences of the adult making payments.

Source: Journal Sentinel, "GOP donor gets lawmaker to write bill to cut his child support" Daniel Bice, Jan. 11, 2014

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