The former CEO of Utah-based Overstock.com — an eccentric millionaire who resigned last year after saying he had a romantic relationship with alleged Russian spy Maria Butina at the request of the FBI — said this week that he’s now funding an army of hackers to try to prove that President Donald Trump won reelection.
Patrick Byrne made the claim Tuesday during an interview on One America News, a far-right, pro-Trump cable channel. His accusations that Democrats manipulated the election and stole votes from Trump are unfounded.
Still, he said: “I’ve funded a team of hackers and cybersleuths, other people with odd skills” in an attempt to show otherwise.
Byrne, 57, also spoke about his plans this week on several YouTube shows and podcasts hosted by individuals who promote the QAnon conspiracy theory, which alleges a cabal of elites and liberals are involved in a worldwide child pedophile ring that Trump is fighting. At the center of the conspiracy is an anonymous character known as “Q” who posts cryptic messages online. The FBI has labeled the group a potential domestic terror threat.
“I’m a free agent, and I’m self-funded, and I’m funding this army of various odd people,” Byrne told a QAnon supporter during one podcast later reported on by The Daily Beast. “It’s really going to make a great movie someday.”
Byrne said he’s been concerned since August that the voting machines used in the election were faulty and changed the vote tallies against Trump. And he believes his team of “hackers and crackers” have the proof. That’s partly the same argument that Trump’s team of lawyers has claimed, as well, in calling for a recount.
But the voting machine company has repeatedly denied any malfunctions with the equipment. And there is no evidence that any votes were miscounted or altered as Byrne claims. He did not provide any proof during his interviews.
In an emailed statement Saturday, Byrne added only: “For some months I proudly have been funding a Bad News Bears collection of just the right spooks, lawyers and ethical hackers, patriots all, to reverse engineer, infiltrate, and disrupt this coup.”
A spokesperson for Byrne also included a link to his blog that calls the election “rigged.”
Trump lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden. Recounts in battleground states have reinforced that, as well, and multiple judges have tossed out Trump’s lawsuits as meritless.
Overstock distanced itself from Byrne on Twitter on Saturday night.
“Overstock has no current association or affiliation with Patrick Byrne or any of his efforts,” reads the tweet. “He resigned in August 2019, & his personal & political beliefs & actions are his own.”
Overstock CEO Jonathan Johnson also tweeted that Byrne is not involved with company today.
“It’s been 15 months since Patrick left @Overstock,” he wrote. “We’re in the e-commerce business and the blockchain business. Those promoting any boycott of our businesses are directing their efforts in the wrong direction.”
The founder and former CEO of Overstock.com has drawn attention for his controversial views over the years. That exploded in July 2019 when he decided to go public about his apparent involvement with investigations into Russian interference in U.S. elections and his alleged relationship with Butina at the behest of the “Men in Black.” Butina is the lone Russian national arrested in U.S. probes of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
After his statement, share prices in Byrne’s company plummeted. And a week later he resigned as the head of Overstock.com.
“Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support,” Byrne said at the time, “my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business.
In addition to locating his business in Utah, Byrne has been deeply involved in politics in the state. He spent $850,000 to support the campaign of former Overstock.com executive and now interim CEO Jonathan Johnson, leading Gov. Gary Herbert to criticize Byrne as Johnson’s “sugar daddy.” Johnson topped Herbert in the GOP Convention but was defeated in the primary.
He has also supported school voucher efforts here.
Since Byrne left Overstock.com, the company’s revenues have rebounded. He has claimed on his personal blog, DeepCapture.com, that he has fled the United States. His interviews this week were all from undisclosed locations.