Failed U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s name might have faded into oblivion after his bruising defeat against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock following a scandal-laden campaign. But emails reveal a potential campaign finance scandal so shocking, experts described it as “stunning,” “unprecedented” and “jaw-dropping,” according to extensive reporting from The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast obtained a series of emails between Walker and a representative for billionaire industrialist Dennis Washington dating back to March 2022. The emails show Walker asking for money, implying that it was for his campaign but instead directing the wire transfer to one of his personal companies, raising the specter on whether he profited from his U.S. Senate campaign.
It’s worth noting, The Daily Beast said the emails were verified as authentic “by a person with knowledge of the exchanges.” They show that Walker asked Washington to wire $532,200 directly to his company, HR Talent, LLC, which was never disclosed on Walker’s financial statements.
The emails show Walker gave the impression that the funds were for his campaign.
Given that information, no matter how the situation played out, Walker either committed possible crimes such as wire fraud or he exponentially violated campaign finance rules by policing contributions in excess of federal limits.
And Walker may not have ignorance to shield him. As The Daily Beast reports, he had been getting lessons in campaign finance rules through the duration of his campaign, which launched months before the March emails, in August 2021.
And the possible violation was directly brought to Walker’s attention.
“It was good talking with you today,” Washington Corporations Executive Vice President Tim McHugh wrote in a November 2022 email, according to The Daily Beast. “After our call, (redacted) reached out to me and said (redacted) clarified with you that any funds sent to the HR Talent account cannot legally be used for political purposes. Political contributions must go to either the Team Herschel or 34N22 accounts.”
The former is a joint fundraising committee subject to campaign donation limits, the latter is a super PAC that was supporting Walker’s Senate bid, which although it could take unlimited contributions from donors, Walker could only directly solicit the federal limit.
McHugh further asked Walker for his “assistance to get the prior contributions made to the HR Talent account in March corrected.”
Neither Walker nor Washington or a representative from his companies responded to a Daily Beast request for comment and the outlet notes it is possible Walker returned the $532,200.
But the outlet interviewed several legal experts about the details uncovered in the emails who all found that, as The Daily Beast describes it, “this scheme appears to not just be illegal, it appears to be unparalleled in its audacity and scope.”
The group ranked the situation among “the most egregious campaign finance violations in modern history and said the emails point “to highly illegal, potentially even criminal activity.”
“There’s no legal way that this could have played out,” one lawyer told The Daily Beast.
The emails raise a number of questions. If Walker indeed misrepresented his intent for the solicited funds as being for his Senate campaign, that could amount to wire fraud. If he did use the money for his campaign or other political activity, it may alleviate the wire fraud problem, but raises new issues about campaign finance violations because Walker never reported using any of his own money — which at that point the funds from Washington would have been — for his campaign.
And it gets worse. The emails obtained by The Daily Beast indicate that Walker solicited $700,000 in all, which would be a violation of the soft money ban, which prohibits candidates from directing money in excess of federal contribution limits.
Making the situation even more egregious is that representatives from Washington’s companies attempted to send the contributions, with McHugh seeking information from Walker on how to ensure the company gets “the funds to the right spot.” Walker didn’t answer and instead solicited an additional $100,000 for his company.
He again included wire instruction for HR Talent.
Reactions are rolling into Twitter at breakneck speed, with most speculating, or gleefully proclaiming, that the latest news means jail time for the former NFL star.
“BREAKING: Herschel Walker could go to Prison,” tweeted PoliticsVideoChannel with the infamous photo of Walker flashing a fake police badge during a debate.
BREAKING: Herschel Walker could go to Prison pic.twitter.com/5qfYnKGdjh
— PoliticsVideoChannel (@politvidchannel) May 4, 2023
“Sounds like Herschel Walker might want to put his years and years of experience from his illustrious law enforcement career to good use and arrest himself,” noted a Twitter user named Scary Larry, referencing Walker’s debunked claims that he was a former police officer.
Sounds like Herschel Walker might want to put his years and years of experience from his illustrious law enforcement career to good use and arrest himself. https://t.co/QYD1JEwKwy
— 😱 Scary Larry 😱 🇺🇦✊🏻🇺🇸🗽 (@aintscarylarry) May 4, 2023