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Herschel Walker's misleading statements about his role on presidential fitness council

The Senate Republican hopeful was dismissed from the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition over violations of the Biden administration’s ethics policies.

By Josh Israel - March 29, 2022
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Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker, front-runner for the party's U.S. Senate nominee, speaks during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce, Ga., Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker was removed last week from his position on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. In addition to apparent ethical violations, it appears he repeatedly misled the public about the post over his three-plus years on the council.

Then-President Donald Trump named Walker, a former player for the team he owned in the short-lived United States Football League and a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” television show, to a two-year term as an unpaid member of the council in May 2018.

Trump appointed him to be council co-chair for another two years in December 2020 after losing the presidential election.

But according to experts, Walker’s decision to run for Senate put him in violation of Biden administration ethics policies and possibly of the Hatch Act, a 1939 ethics law that prohibits “special government employees” from doing their public duties while also seeking partisan political office.

On March 23, the administration asked him to resign or “be terminated.”

Rather than comply with the law, Walker played victim. “President Biden is so scared about us beating Raphael Warnock that he has asked me to resign from my unpaid position on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition,” he tweeted Thursday, hours after being removed and replaced. “I’m not a quitter so you are going to have to fire me.”

Walker appears to have repeatedly exaggerated and misled about his tenure on the council.

In a Fox News appearance in October 2020, Walker, a prominent Trump backer, attacked Biden’s candidacy. In the middle of comments calling out the Democratic nominee for having helped enact several anti-crime laws, he suddenly said, “I think the American people need to know the truth. And that’s all he talks about, knowing the truth. Well, the truth is, talk about your son. The truth is I’ve never been offered a position in Washington from President Trump.”

Trump had appointed him to the council more than two years earlier — a fact Walker had bragged about in an interview just weeks before.

A Walker spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

The fitness council, established in 1956 to promote healthy eating and physical activity, includes up to 30 members who agree to work without salary but can receive per diem stipends and travel reimbursements. It is supported by a small staff of typically between two and five full-time employees.

But at a January 2020 rally at Austin College in Texas, Walker falsely suggested it was a much larger operation:

Being in Washington ain’t the best thing in the world because I’m in trouble all the time. But let me tell you what’s so funny: I have changed some stuff up there and how they do stuff. I have 75 people in Washington work for me, and we work. And right now I have a bill right now already through the Ways and Means, on the Senate floor, that’s gonna be passed, that’s gonna incentivize people to start working out. And what it is, is, when you pay to play [sic] for your child, uh, play sports, you’re gonna be able to write that off.

Though the council had no formal role in responding to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Walker seemed to suggest it did. He told interviewers on “The Bigun Rick Show” that June: “We are trying to be active in the youth sports world and a lot of the people out doing different things, and so we have different meetings and different calls from the White House. And so we’re active. And with everything going on right now, with the rioting and all that stuff, you know, we’re trying to help out as well.”

Walker has been endorsed by Trump and by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Georgia Republican Senate primary to face off against first-term Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

So far, Walker’s candidacy has been marred by questions about his long-time Texas residency, allegations of repeated domestic abuse, and reports about his ties to racist, homophobic, and antisemitic extremists.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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