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ICYMI: Herschel Walker’s business record reveals creditor lawsuits, exaggerated claims [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Herschel Walker’s business record reveals creditor lawsuits, exaggerated claims
By Dylan Jackson and Greg Bluestein
March 11, 2022

Key Points:

  • At stops around the state and in online appeals, the Republican Senate front-runner boasts of creating several successful businesses and hundreds of jobs.
  • But an Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of court records and other public documents contradicts statements Walker has made about the number of people his companies employ, their size and the assets they own.
  • The review also revealed a string of defaults, settlements and lawsuits alleging that Walker and his businesses owed millions of dollars in unpaid loans.
  • And while Walker attributes his wealth to his business acumen, much of it seems to be derived from his celebrity status as a football legend through speaking engagements and brand ambassadorships, according to campaign financial disclosures.
  • “If you can’t run your own business,” asked Democratic state Sen. Emanuel Jones, “how can you run the nation’s business?”
  • The largest venture within H. Walker Enterprises appears to be Renaissance Man Food Services… He has described the company as a “mini Tyson Foods” and touted it as the largest minority-owned business of its kind in the country. He told the Dallas Morning News in 2009 that Renaissance Man Food Services employed more than 100 people and grossed $70 million a year. In a more recent interview, Walker told Fox News that the company employed 600 people.
  • Walker, however, has told a different story in government documents and in court records.
  • During the pandemic, Renaissance Man Food Services reported just eight employees on applications for two Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal Small Business Administration totaling $180,000.
  • The large estimates of employees he has made to the press over the years appear to refer to chicken processing jobs, which are not actually part of Walker’s business.
  • Walker and various business partners have defaulted or fell behind in payments on at least eight loans totaling $9 million over the past two decades, according to an AJC review of hundreds of pages of court documents, Securities and Exchange Commission filings and other public records that detail these financial issues.
  • One of the earliest struggles came with Renaissance Man Inc., a health food company Walker founded in 1997 to sell and promote health-conscious products starting with aloe-based health drink Aloe-Lu-Ya. Despite Walker’s endorsement, Renaissance Man Inc. stumbled.
  • “This product launch was a failure,” the company said in a 2002 SEC filing.
  • In 2002, the company merged with American Consolidated Mining Co. and was renamed American Consolidated Management Group (ACMG). Walker was appointed as president and CEO, but the company struggled to make a profit and the financial problems continued.
  • The merged company fell behind in payments or defaulted on at least five loans amounting to a combined $8.2 million dollars,according to SEC records. And lawsuits followed.
  • In more recent speeches, Walker has touted his involvement and ownership stake in Zoner’s Pizza, Wings and Waffles… A pair of lawsuits filed in Texas over the past two years are linked to the company and allege that it defaulted on $700,000 in loans.
  • “Defendant Mr. Walker, although having been duly and legally served with Plaintiff’s Original Petition, failed to appear and answer, and wholly made default,” the judge wrote in their ruling.
  • Yale professor Sonnenfeld said that Walker’s litigious business past and misrepresentations of his success raises questions about his trustworthiness, especially as a candidate that has no political record to run on.
  • “It shows that he will exploit false information for personal gain. If there’s nothing else you need in public office, you have to have somebody that you can trust,” said Sonnenfeld, who previously taught at Emory University for nearly a decade. “The most important thing there is that he hasn’t established himself as a pillar of trust.”

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