Over the course of his bizarre Republican Senate campaign, Herschel Walker has been caught telling a breathtaking number of lies. He’s said he was a University of Georgia graduate, but that wasn’t true. He said he was his high school’s valedictorian, but that wasn’t true. His claims about his business background have been so extraordinarily wrong that The Daily Beast said they “appear to bear no resemblance to reality whatsoever.”
But the Georgia Republican’s lies about having a background in law enforcement stand out — in part because they’re so politically damaging, and in part because Walker keeps trying to pretend his lies are true.
As NBC News reported, this was a key part of the first — and probably last — Walker debate appearance of the year.
In a notable exchange, [Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock] took aim at Walker’s erratic behavior in the past and his false claims he had worked in law enforcement.... Walker then produced some sort of badge, suggesting he was in law enforcement and prompting a moderator to repeatedly ask him to put the badge away, saying the rules of the debate barred the use of props.
“It’s not a prop,” Walker replied. “This is real.”
While it was certainly true that the Republican was holding a prop, there may have been some confusion about what “real” means.
To briefly review how we arrived at this point, Walker has repeatedly lied to the public about having a law enforcement background. In one speech, for example, he told an audience about a 2001 incident. “I worked in law enforcement, so I had a gun,” he claimed. In 2017, he specifically said, “I work with the Cobb County Police Department.”
The Cobb County Police Department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it has no record of Walker working with the department. The Republican’s campaign said he was an “honorary deputy,” though a former DeKalb County district attorney said the title was meaningless, even if true.
Being an “honorary deputy,” a local prosecutor said, is like having “a junior ranger badge.”
(All of this, incidentally, is separate from Walker also lying about having been “an agent” with the FBI.)
But while common sense suggests the Senate hopeful should avoid this embarrassing topic, he appears convinced that he really does have a background in law enforcement, reality notwithstanding. Indeed, Walker sat down yesterday with NBC News’ Kristen Welker, and once again flashed the badge that’s sometimes given to entertainers and other celebrities.
"That is a legit badge,” the GOP candidate insisted. “I carry it with me all the time. It’s a real badge. It’s not a fake badge.... If anything happened in this county, I have the right to work with the police in getting things done.”
Walker added, “I work in law enforcement.”
No, he doesn’t, and the fact that he finds this confusing is the sort of thing that probably ought to matter to voters.
This need not be complicated: Law enforcement personnel go through extensive and multifaceted training. Eventually, officials and government agencies give officers the legal authority to carry a real badge that lets the public know that they have state-sanctioned powers to enforce the law.
Walker has not received that training. He's been given no legal authority. He received a trinket from real cops because he played football well many years ago. If he tried to use this toy to “get things done” alongside real police officers, he could be arrested for impersonating a cop.
And yet, there was Walker yesterday, telling NBC News, in reference to the police, “I have the authority to do things for them.”
In a healthy political environment, this is the disqualifying moment for the Georgia Republican’s Senate candidacy.
As it happens, Walker had an opportunity to elaborate further at a debate last night, but the GOP candidate refused to show up. Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, took aim at the empty podium alongside him.