When Republican Herschel Walker and Senator Raphael Warnock participate in their first head-to-head debate against each other Friday night in Georgia, Walker will be debating under a cloud of highly questionable assertions and denials. Over the last few weeks, Walker has been strafed by accusations that he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion and then fathered a son with her (whom he also urged her to abort). Walker has adamantly denied all this, despite overwhelming evidence supporting the reports. Walker’s denials follow a pattern of the Georgia Senate candidate making outright false claims. Below is a roundup of his most egregious falsehoods on the trail.
1. The Abortion Lie. Reporting from The Daily Beast, including receipts and a “Get well” card, revealed that Walker, who opposes abortions without exceptions, in fact paid for his girlfriend’s abortion. The revelation doesn’t seem to have shifted support dramatically. Anti-abortion groups are sticking with the Republican nominee. But the news has put Walker on the defensive. Even when he’s been on conservative television, he’s been pressed on the abortion story. In an interview with Sean Hannity, the host raised the “serious accusations” against Walker. Walker tried to deflect first, claiming he had “no idea” about the woman making the accusations, and said: “I never asked anyone for an abortion, I never paid for an abortion, it’s a lie.”
2. The Education Lie. Walker’s campaign claimed last December that Walker has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and graduated in the top 1 percent of his class from the University of Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looked into the claim and found it was false. “It’s a falsehood that has proliferated elsewhere, including in an online biography advertising Walker’s book, at a campaign rally for his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, and even during his introduction this year at a congressional hearing,” the newspaper said.
After that, Walker admitted he never actually graduated. But then Walker claimed that he … never actually claimed to have graduated from the University of Georgia! “I never said that. They say that. And I said—that’s what you gotta remember—I never, I never have said that statement. Not one time. I’ve said that I studied criminal justice at UGA,” Walker told Atlanta’s FOX affiliate.
3. The First Charity Lie. Walker claimed last October to have founded a nonprofit veterans’ charity called Patriot Support. In February, he described it as a “military program” that treats thousands “of soldiers a year.” In reality, the organization is a for-profit program run by Universal Health Services, one of the biggest hospital companies in the country and one that has been investigated by the FBI and the Department of Defense over whether its psychiatric facilities tried to increase profits by keeping patients longer than necessary. Walker had actually acted as a spokesman for the company and was paid a salary of $331,000 last year, according to the Associated Press.
After his initial claim was exposed, true to form, Walker doubled back with a second false claim. This time he claimed to have started something called Ascend Health’s Freedom Care program, a veterans’ program with a similar mission to Patriot Support. An investigation by the AP found that Walker was actually a spokesman for the program, not its founder. The AP reported that “government filings show Freedom Care was developed by the company in 2006, a year before Walker claimed to have created it.”
4. The Second Charity Lie. Walker claimed to have donated about 15 percent of the profits from his businesses to charity. The company website for Herschel’s Famous 34 Food Products, unearthed by The New York Times, said, “As part of its corporate charter, 15% of all profits are given to various non-profit charitable organizations serving people in need.” But when the Times reached out to these charities, “one declined to comment and the other three said they had no record or recollection of any gifts from the company in the last decade.”
A spokesman for Walker’s campaign told the Times in a short statement: “Herschel Walker has given millions of dollars to charities.” The statement did not address the website’s claim or why the charities said they had no record of gifts from Walker’s company.
5. The “I Was a Cop” Lie. At different points in the past few years, Walker has claimed that he had some kind of extensive experience in law enforcement. In 2017 he said he worked as a police officer with the Cobb County Police Department. In 2019, according to The Washington Post, Walker said he trained with the FBI. “I worked for law enforcement, y’all didn’t know that either,” Walker said, according to the Post. “I spent time at Quantico at the FBI training school. Y’all didn’t know I was an agent?”
But a spokesperson for the Cobb County Police Department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there were no records of Walker working for the department. Walker’s campaign then explained that he had once run a “women’s self-defense training, participating in the FBI Academy at Quantico” and that he was an “honorary deputy” for the Cobb County Police Department.
Obviously, teaching a class and being an “honorary deputy” aren’t the same as being a police officer or an FBI agent.
6. The “I Was a Captain of Commerce” Lie. Walker claimed in 2016 that he owned the largest upholstery business in the country. Walker does not own the largest upholstery business in the country. In fact, Walker doesn’t now and has never owned any sort of upholstery business, the Daily Beast reported.
7. The Native American Lie. Walker claimed in January to be Native American on his mother’s side, stating that his grandmother was a “full-blooded Cherokee.” His own mother was unable to confirm these claims in an interview with HuffPost. Remember when the right was all up in arms about Elizabeth Warren?
8. The Big Lie Lie. Walker, whose campaign has received Donald Trump’s endorsement, continues to claim that massive voter fraud occurred in 2020, telling reporters that he wasn’t sure if Biden had been lawfully elected.
“I don’t know whether he was,” Walker, in May, said of Biden winning the 2020 presidential election, adding, “I think everybody else thinks there was problems, and that’s the reason right now everybody’s so upset.” Actually, 60-plus federal judges, some of them Trump appointees, didn’t think there were any problems with the vote at all.
Multiple lawsuits in the state of Georgia and elsewhere alleging election fraud have been filed and dismissed. And it is in Walker’s Georgia, of course, that Trump faces what may be his biggest pile of legal quicksand, in the form of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation into Trump’s (recorded) attempt to make state election officials find him 11,780 votes.
9. And Last but Not Least, the Various Fatherhood Lies. A signature position of Walker’s candidacy has been his criticism of absentee fathers. But multiple revelations throughout the campaign cycle have shown that Walker himself has refused to publicly acknowledge three of his children. These reports pushed Walker to publicly address how many children he is a father to. “I have four children. Three sons and a daughter. They’re not ‘undisclosed’—they’re my kids. I support them all and love them all,” Walker told HuffPost in a statement in June.
The news kept coming, though. Walker, it turned out, in 2009 paid for a woman to have an abortion and then urged her to end a second pregnancy in 2011. She declined.
Walker’s responses have been incoherent. “The first I knew about any of this was when some reporter asked me about an abortion. And I’m like, ‘No, that’s a lie.’ And when I was asked if I paid for an abortion, and I said, ‘No.’ I did not pay for an abortion,” Walker told NBC a week ago. “I’m not saying she did or didn’t have one [an abortion]. I’m saying I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know.”
Walker is hardly the first candidate—or even the only Senate candidate in 2022—to have gotten caught in a lie. But a few things make Walker’s lies different from other candidates’. They’re easily disproven. They’re demonstrably false to the point of being preposterous (the upholstery lie) or offensive (the abortion lie). And they’re on a scale that is rarely seen in politics.
The Georgia Senate race is arguably the most competitive Senate race in the country. And in spite of all the above—Walker could still win.