The Washington Post yesterday ran a story on the GOP’s Trump-endorsed candidate for North Carolina’s open U.S. Senate seat and it is truly wild.
Three-term U.S. congressman Ted Budd, who owns a shooting range near Winston-Salem and has positioned himself as a God-and-guns, friend-to-farmers type was embroiled in a family business scheme that ended in bankruptcy and cost famers across the country millions of dollars in losses.
The details are complex, but here’s the gist: according to court documents, a trustee for farmers and other creditors alleges that Ted Budd’s father, Richard Budd, improperly transferred millions of dollars in assets to family members, including Ted Budd, right before Richard Budd faced a $15 million judgement in a bankruptcy case for the company AgriBioTech.
The bankruptcy caused losses of millions of dollars for farmers, and in a settlement that followed, the Budds repaid only a small portion of the money back to their creditors.
Here’s a quote from one such farmer from the story:
“We got screwed and there was not a freaking thing we could do about it. There was no way to fight multimillionaires,” said Scott Scheuerman, a Wyoming farmer who had urged fellow growers to send their crop to the company, which had bought up dozens of processing plants. “We were the little guy. We were just a number, and they could care less about us.”
In the story, the Budds (or Richard Budd, as Ted Budd declined to comment) say there were no fraudulent transfers of money and he doesn’t seem to think the swindled farmers are owed an apology.
“Your attempts to tie my son to this business are dishonest and offensive,” he told the Post. “I wish my personal efforts to save ABT had been successful, but they were not. I did my best, but in this case, my best was not enough to save ABT.”
Asked whether Ted Budd ever disclosed the bankruptcy case to Trump or other key supporters, campaign adviser Jonathan Felts said that “Ted played no role at ABT and there is nothing to ‘disclose.’ ” He said the claims by the trustee were “untrue allegations that are typical in that sort of litigation.”
Felts acknowledged that Ted Budd was one of 11 people who signed as “co-makers” of a $10 million loan to AgriBioTech that later became the subject of the trustee’s lawsuit and declined to say whether any of Budd’s personal fortune of up to nearly $11 million was attributable to the funds allegedly transferred to him by his father.
Now, as he seeks a Senate seat, Ted Budd touts his work in family companies and as the owner of a shooting range, saying “I’ve spent my whole life in the business world.”
But Ted Budd was a shareholder in the company, and the facts of the case seem to show that he received millions of dollars in assets before the bankruptcy case was settled. The case was so egregious that, following the AgriBioTech bankruptcy, Congress created a $35 million no-interest loan fund specifically to help the farmers who were affected by the ABT bankruptcy (they could borrow up to 65 percent of what they were owed, the Post reports, so still were out millions of dollars).
This all checks out. Trump is smart enough to sense one of his own, a self-serving grifter who appeals to those who feel trodden on or left behind, all the while fleecing whoever he can for whatever they’ve got.
And while he’s not the GOP frontrunner in this race yet (that’s Mayor Pat), a $10 million cash infusion from the conservative group The Club for Growth that’s in the works should help him on his way.
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