ICYMI: Walker’s Shady Business Practices Coming to Surface, “Questions…Piling Up”

February 14, 2022

Herschel Walker’s business practices are facing increasing scrutiny, and “questions about [his] background are piling up.” A new report from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer revealed that the Trump-tapped candidate has “failed to repay $625,000 in loans,” a recent investigation by 11Alive found that one of Walker’s business interests took nearly $10 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans while laying off 90% of their employees, despite Walker “ridiculing businesses that took the payout” — prompting business leaders and elected officials to speak out — and the Associated Press shined a light on Walker’s “exaggerated claims of financial success,” with associates calling him a “temperamental and unreliable business partner” even before he entered the U.S. Senate race.  

Read up on the news about Walker’s sketchy business dealings below:

Herschel Walker guaranteed he’d repay $600k in pizza franchise loans. So far, he hasn’t

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 2/11/22

  • U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker and a business partner have failed to repay $625,000 in loans used to fund a pizza franchise, court records reviewed by the Ledger-Enquirer and McClatchy News show. 
  • Two Georgia counties used a Texas court judgment to place a lien of more than half a million dollars against Walker, Scrushy and the business to try to get them to pay. Fulton County Superior Court filed the lien in December, and Johnson County, where Walker’s hometown of Wrightsville is located, recorded the lien later that month. 
  • The ruling is the latest in a series of issues for Walker… 
  • In a statement to the Ledger-Enquirer and McClatchy News, Walker’s communications director Mallory Blount did not say if Walker would pay off the debt. 
  • Walker’s legal issues with Zoner’s were first reported by the Associated Press as part of an investigation into the Republican’s business dealings and personal life. The AP found that Walker exaggerated his business success and alarmed business partners with unpredictable behavior. Walker also threatened the life of his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, AP reported.
  • Both Walker and Scrushy agreed to repay the loans, which were issued in 2018 and amended in 2019 by Veritex Community Bank, according to two lawsuits filed in the 14th District Court in Dallas County.
  • Veritex filed the first lawsuit over a roughly $500,000 loan in September 2020. A second suit over a roughly $100,000 loan was filed in June 2021. 
  • Veritex accused Zoner’s of defaulting on both loans and said Walker, Scrushy and Zoner’s declined to repay despite agreeing to do so. 
  • Walker avoided involvement in the Texas lawsuits. Security guards would not allow legal documents to be personally delivered to Walker, who lives in a gated community in Westlake, a town northwest of Fort Worth. Attempts to contact Walker by phone were unsuccessful, court records show. 
  • Court documents state Walker and his codefendants failed to appear in court to answer the charges in the lawsuits. 
  • The courts ruled in favor of the bank in both cases, and ordered Walker, Scrushy and Zoner’s Restaurant Group LLC to pay back the loans as well as attorney fees and other related costs.
  • Atlanta attorney Michael F. Hanson filed a civil case in Fulton County Superior Court in November 2021 to enforce the judgment on the $500,000 loan case. Judge Rachelle Carnesale enacted a lien against Walker, Scrushy and Zoner’s Restaurant Group.
  • The same lien was filed in Johnson County in late December. Veritex has not asked Fulton or Johnson County courts to enforce the second court ruling.
  • Zoner’s has 15 locations in four states, more than half of them in Georgia. Each location serves Walker’s chicken and waffles, according to the company’s website. Walker owns a chicken business that distributes its products nationwide.
  • Walker is referred to as an owner and majority stockholder in several news stories about various Zoner’s locations. He identified himself as an owner of more than “two dozen restaurants across the country, including Zoner’s Pizza, Wings and Waffles” during a speaking event in Fort Irwin, Calif., in 2019.

Herschel Walker mocked businesses that took PPP money, even though he used it himself: report

11Alive, 1/27/22

  • U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker had business interests that took government bailout money during the early stages of the pandemic, records show. Yet, on Twitter, Walker has also ridiculed businesses that took such money. 
  • When the COVID pandemic all but shut down the economy, hotels were among the first to lose business. When the government came up with the paycheck protection program or PPP hotels got a share of it. 
  • One company benefiting was the Sotherly Hotel Group which includes Atlanta’s historic Georgian Terrace, across from the Fox Theatre, and a dozen other upscale hotels from Philadelphia to Houston.
  • In April 2020, the government reported Sotherly got two PPP loans totaling more than $9.7 million while, at the same time, laying off 90% of its hotel staff, according to documents the company filed with the government.  
  • At that time, Walker was a Texas resident and a bit of a presence on politically conservative sites like Fox News. Just a few days before Sotherly got the PPP money, Walker on Twitter mocked “big companies (that) are giving back their PPP money…. Maybe they felt embarrassed (or) ashamed,” wrote Walker, before he launched his senate race. 
  • “Because of that lifeline, a lot of businesses were saved,” said Adam Harrell, who runs a marketing company in Atlanta that also took PPP money.
  • “There’s was (a) level of hypocrisy shown when you criticize it and hey, you were part of a company. You serve on a board. You took the money. But instead of saving people’s jobs, you laid people off,” Harrell said.
  • In a statement, Walker’s campaign said “Herschel’s tweet was referring to multi-billion dollar corporations that took multi-million dollar loans, which were clearly meant to keep small businesses afloat.”
  • In April 2020, Walker told the Atlanta Business Chronicle he was “not relying on PPP or the government to save his chicken business,” according to the article’s headline. But a few weeks later, Walker’s company likewise benefited from two payments totaling $182,800 in PPP money, most of which the government has forgiven, according to a ProPublica tracking site.  
  • Walker declined an interview request with 11Alive – something he has done consistently since he began his Senate campaign last year.

As Herschel Walker eyes Senate run, a turbulent past emerges

Associated Press, 7/23/21

  • An Associated Press review of hundreds of pages of public records tied to Walker’s business ventures and his divorce, including many not previously reported, sheds new light on a turbulent personal history that could dog his Senate bid. The documents detail accusations that Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behavior.
  • Walker “certainly could bring a lot of things to the table,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said in a recent interview. “But as others have mentioned, there’s also a lot of questions out there.”
  • Walker’s unpredictable behavior has carried into his chicken business, now known as Renaissance Man Food Services, according to court filings. 
  • More recently, Walker has made outsize claims about his business record. In repeated media interviews, Walker claimed his company employed hundreds of people, included a chicken processing division in Arkansas and grossed $70 million to $80 million annually in sales.
  • However, when the company applied for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan last year, it reported just eight employees. (It received about $182,000 in COVID-19 aid.)
  • In a recent court case, Walker gave far more modest revenue figures, indicating that the company averaged about $1.5 million a year in profit from 2008 to 2017. Meanwhile, Walker’s business associates testified in the same case that he doesn’t own chicken processing plants, as he claims. Instead, they described him as a licensing partner who lends his name to the enterprise — not unlike the kind of deals his friend Donald Trump has used to expand his brand for decades.
  • A wrongful termination lawsuit filed in 2018 by a friend and former manager of Walker’s company created an extensive record of Walker’s leadership. Although a judge ruled against the employee, John Staples, emails, documents and depositions in the case present Walker as a temperamental and unreliable business partner.


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