New Report Raises More Questions About Walker’s Record: Walker’s Company “Benefits From Unpaid Labor”

October 25, 2022

Today, Herschel Walker, who has been caught repeatedly lying about the size and scope of his businesses, is facing yet another troubling revelation, as an Associated Press report found that Walker’s company took advantage of unpaid labor from a program lawyers have described as a “work camp” used to profit off a “vulnerable workforce under the guise of providing alcohol and drug counseling and rehabilitation services.”

Read the report below:

Associated Press: “Walker’s chicken firm tied to benefits from unpaid labor”

By Bill Barrow – October 25, 2022

  • Herschel Walker campaigns for the U.S. Senate as a champion of free enterprise and advocate for the mentally ill, felons and others at the margins of society. And the Georgia Republican has called for policies that blend those priorities.
  • Yet an Associated Press review of federal court cases, alongside other public records and statements, offers a more complicated reality. One instance at the heart of Walker’s business portfolio suggests he has benefited, through a firm he touts as a principal partner and supplier, from the unpaid labor of drug offenders routed from state courts to residential rehabilitation programs in lieu of prison.
  • It’s not possible to quantify any financial gains Walker might have gleaned over the years from undervalued labor. But some lawyers have derided the operation in question, Oklahoma-based Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery Inc., as a residential “work camp” that profits from a “vulnerable workforce under the guise of providing alcohol and drug counseling and rehabilitation services.”
  • CAAIR, as it is commonly known, began more than a decade ago sending residents to work at Simmons Foods Inc., a processing giant that Walker touts as a principal partner and supplier to his distributorship, Renaissance Man Food Services. State judges assigned convicted offenders to CAAIR, giving them a choice between the residential program and its requirements or serving time in conventional jails or prisons. Simmons would then contract with CAAIR for labor at its plants; CAAIR program participants were not paid.
  • A federal lawsuit, still pending against CAAIR and Simmons, has detailed how some participants were allegedly pressured to work when injured, compelled to attend religious services, and threatened with imprisonment if their work was unsatisfactory.
  • CAAIR, participants alleged in court, did not always provide necessary rehabilitative or psychiatric treatment, the kind that Walker has emphasized when he shares his personal story and advocates for people suffering from mental illness. CAAIR described its services in court filings as “a combination of work therapy and spiritual and religious counseling.”
  • Neither Walker nor Renaissance Man Food Services was named as a defendant in the original suit, and Walker’s campaign declined to comment on the matter, saying Simmons is not Walker’s company. A Simmons representative did not respond to inquiries.
  • Yet in Walker’s telling, Simmons is critical to his enterprise.
  • On the Renaissance website, Simmons is the only supplier or partner mentioned by name: “RMFS joins with Simmons Foods to bring quality poultry, pork and bakery products to the retail and food service marketplace.” The website highlights one of its locations as Siloam Springs, Arkansas, where Simmons is based. The relationship dates back as early as 2006, according to Walker’s previous statements to media.
  • Renaissance bills itself as a certified minority owned business — Walker is Black — that works with “supplier partners to meet the needs of our retail and food service customers.” That suggests a relationship in which Walker partners with food processing firms to act as distributor so that an end-line business is buying from a minority-owned firm. For example, Walker’s website denotes two “diversity supplier” awards from Marriott hotels.
  • Walker isn’t always clear about the size and scope of Renaissance. He’s said he employs hundreds of workers, with frequent mentions of a chicken-processing division in Arkansas. Further, he’s claimed as much as $80 million in gross sales. But when Renaissance filed federal paperwork to secure loans under the Paycheck Protection Program during the coronavirus pandemic, it reported eight employees. The company received about $182,000 under the program. In another court case, Walker gave far more modest revenue figures, indicating the company averaged about $1.5 million a year in profit from 2008 to 2017.
  • Walker’s exaggerations could simply involve conflating some of Simmons’ operations as his own.
  • His 2022 financial disclosure form submitted to the Senate list Renaissance as paying Walker a $214,062.50 salary. Another business, H Walker Enterprises, brought Walker a $3 million payout as sole shareholder. The website of H Walker Enterprises suggests Renaissance is a subsidiary. State records list the same corporate address in Dublin, Georgia, for both.
  • Throughout the litigation, Simmons and CAAIR have forcefully defended their practices. But one thing has never been up for dispute: The men CAAIR sent to the chicken plants were not paid.


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