NEW: Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Herschel Walker’s business record reveals creditor lawsuits, exaggerated claims”

March 11, 2022

Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a groundbreaking investigation of Herschel Walker’s claims about his business record, exposing his “exaggerated claims,” a “string of defaults,” “court records and other public documents contradict[ing] statements Walker has made,” and millions in unpaid loans. It’s just the latest in a long line of credibility issues from the Trump-tapped candidate that Georgians are starting to hear about more and more.

Herschel Walker’s business record reveals creditor lawsuits, exaggerated claims

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/11/22

  • 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.
  • “There are a lot of fine qualities in his background as an athlete to celebrate, of course. In the business world he is not anywhere in the league of any of his Republican predecessors,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean for leadership studies at Yale, who reviewed the AJC’s findings.
  • His campaign declined an interview request to discuss Walker’s business career. In a pair of statements, it defended his record but did not address specific questions about his past business problems. His political opponents, though, say the questions about his business experience are emblematic of a greater problem in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.
  • The largest venture within H. Walker Enterprises appears to be Renaissance Man Food Services, a poultry products and distribution company, according to court records and Walker’s own public statements. 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 first loan in April 2020 amounted to $111,300 and has since been forgiven.
  • 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. In reality, manufacturers supply chicken to Renaissance Man Food Services which the company then sells to retailers and other business under one of Walker’s food brands, court documents show.
  • In a 2018 lawsuit against his company, Walker backtracked from previous public statements he’d made about the poultry business and his involvement in the chicken processing plants. He acknowledged that the company didn’t own any plants, but that he partnered with the company that actually owns the plants to sell his branded chicken products.
  • 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. In 1999, Aloe-Lu-Ya launched on the shelves of Walmart, but the drink didn’t sell.
  • Renaissance Man Inc. had net sales of $52,679 and $4,676 in 2000 and 2001, respectively filings show. In those same years, the company—which is a separate entity from Renaissance Man Food Services—posted net losses of $900,606 and $1,879,626.
  • “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.
  • One creditor sued in 2005, alleging the company had failed to repay an $800,000 loan, which was later settled for $110,744. A marketing firm claimed in another suit that the company owed them $570,000, which was eventually settled for $65,000. In 2003, the company’s accountants resigned over an unpaid $4,780 bill, according to SEC filings.
  • A 2008 SEC filing painted a grim portrait of the company’s operating losses.
  • “These conditions raise substantial doubt about the ability of the Company to continue,” ACMG said in the filing.
  • In a separate 2011 lawsuit, First Chatham Bank in Savannah sued Walker and Mappin for defaulting on a $300,000 loan related to an unnamed venture.
  • The pair were also connected by Renaissance Manufacturing, Mappin’s family textile business based in South Carolina that Walker was involved in until 2017. The bank settled with the pair several months after the suit was filed and the case was dismissed.
  • In an interview with the AJC, Mappin declined to elaborate on the 2011 lawsuit.
  • “In more recent speeches, Walker has touted his involvement and ownership stake in Zoner’s Pizza, Wings and Waffles
  • The company’s marketing materials say nothing about its financial struggles. 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. A Texas judge granted a default judgment against Walker and his business partner, Brandon Scrushy, in both cases after they ignored the court, records show.
  • “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.
  • The creditor, Veritex Community Bank, filed suit in Fulton County last fall looking to enforce the Texas judgement.
  • His reputation has also made him a popular figure on the speaking circuit. Between July 2020 and December 2021, Walker received $415,000 from 17 speeches according to his December federal campaign disclosure.
  • He also received more than $420,000 from a pair of sports marketing companies. A Delaware-based mental health care provider is paying him $330,000 this year to serve as a spokesman for its support program for veterans.
  • Walker has, for the most part, avoided interviews with news outlets and has recently said he would not debate his Republican rivals.
  • But 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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