Johnston lawyer bristles at 'deadbeat dad' label

Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Levi Johnston's lawyer is bristling at suggestions from Gov. Sarah Palin's family that the 19-year-old is a deadbeat dad.

"I wish that Sarah Palin's father would get his facts correct, quite frankly," attorney Rex Butler said Wednesday.

Johnston and Palin's daughter, 18-year-old Bristol, have a nearly 4-month-old son, Tripp. Since the couple broke up, Johnston has claimed in several national television interviews that the Palins were limiting his access to the boy.

Palin's father, Chuck Heath, claims in a story being published Friday in Us Weekly magazine that the unemployed Johnston isn't financially supporting the infant. He said he wishes Johnston would take some money from the interviews and buy diapers for Tripp.

Butler told The Associated Press that Johnston was not paid for the interviews and is tired of the Palin family's characterization of his client.

Heath was "trying to make the young man look like a deadbeat father, and, you know, they may have a rude awakening one day if he tries to get custody," Butler said. "They don't want to share his child with him like they should."

Butler also suggested Johnston and Bristol Palin would likely still have a relationship if the families would stay out of it.

Palin family spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton responded in an e-mail to the Associated Press by saying, "Bristol is focused on college, advocating abstinence and raising Tripp."

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