Bill Foster, a former Democratic House member seeking a return ticket to Congress next year, has a checkered history with women.
Illinois court records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon reveal that Foster’s now ex-wife accused him of physical and emotional abuse prior to the couple’s divorce in 1996.
A March 1996 court filing contends that Foster "pushed, shoved, and caused physical abuse and emotional harm" to his then-wife, who had asked Foster repeatedly to leave the family home because his presence was "upsetting" to their two young children.
Foster’s wife’s attorney requested a temporary restraining order against Foster from "calling, harassing, or touching" his client, the records show.
A divorce settlement agreement, citing "irreconcilable difficulties and differences," was finalized on Oct. 24, 1996.
The settlement includes a "miscellaneous provision" under which Mr. Foster sought to prevent his former wife from moving outside a certain school district by imposing a $50,000 penalty for doing so.
A circuit court judge questioned the unusual provision in a later court filing, saying he doubted its "enforceability."
"It almost sounds, on the initial surface, as if you are holding someone hostage to stay within any school district, which is not the law of the State of Illinois," Judge Keith Brown told Foster’s attorney on Nov. 22, 1996.
It is unclear what became of the settlement provision.
Foster has since remarried, according to his campaign website, which also notes that "Bill and [his ex-wife] Ann are both very proud of remaining on good terms and making things as easy as possible for their kids, who seem to be doing well in life!"
He is one of at least two former Democratic congressmen whose divorce records reveal accusations of spousal abuse.
Former Rep. Charlie Wilson’s (D., Ohio) effort to reclaim his House could be undermined by renewed scrutiny into his 1990 divorce records, in which Wilson admitted to choking and shaking his then-wife, and slamming her into a refrigerator.
Foster, a physicist and businessman by trade, was first elected to Congress in March 2008 in a special election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R., Ill.). He lost to current Rep. Randy Hultgren (R., Ill.) in 2010.
He is running in a new district in 2012, one that was recently redrawn to favor Democratic candidates. He faces seven-term incumbent Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R., Ill.).
Foster’s campaign has raised almost $1.3 million this cycle, and has received contributions from Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz ($2,000 via her campaign committee) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ($10,000 via her political action committee, PAC to the Future), according to the Federal Election Commission.
Wasserman Shultz and Pelosi have repeatedly accused the Republican Party of waging a "war on women."
Before joining Congress, Foster was part of a physicist team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest subatomic particle ever observed.
Foster’s campaign did not return a request for comment.