Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Patrick Byrne Hedges His Bets

Byrne is the fickle type, apparently.

My favorite CEO, the always-affable, telegenic Patrick Byrne of Overstock.com, used corporate resources a few weeks ago to give a ringing endorsement to fringe Republican candidate Ron Paul.

Made sense. Paul taps in to the deep-seated paranoia that afflicts all too many people nowadays, has endorsed Byrne's loony "naked shorting" conspiracy theories, and his self-styled "libertarian" (a/k/a "screw the public") point of view is very much in keeping with Byrne's. He is a friend of Wall Street, as is Byrne despite his rhetoric, and endorsed a book by a stock scamster.

A marriage made in heaven, one would think. In endorsing Paul, Byrne said:
In October Dr. Paul came to Utah, and he and I visited for an hour in my office. After that meeting, I gave him the largest donation I could under federal law: it is rare to meet a politician who understands the Constitution, and rarer still to meet one who thinks it binds the government meaningfully (I would give Dr. Paul more were there not now a federal blackout on free speech known as “McCain-Feingold”). In a television interview last week I stated that, while for the first time in my life I felt there are several candidates qualified to be president, my #1 choice would be Dr. Paul.
The maximum under the cursed McCain-Feingold act, designed to limit the influence of lucky-sperm types like Byrne, is $2300.

The Deseret News reports today that Byrne gave a ringing endorsement to yet another Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. What's interesting is that, according to the Federal Election Commission, he gave $2300 to Mitt Romney on Nov. 30. That would be about a month after he dug deep and gave the max to Paul.

Romney is, of course, pretty much the polar opposite of Paul on most issues.

While I guess there might be a bit of a lag time in reporting these things--his contribution to Paul does not show up just yet -- it does appear that the two donations took place in the same time frame, and he probably gave to Romney after he gave to Paul. (As best as I can tell, "date of receipt" means just that.)

That would indicate that Byrne is pretty crassly hedging his bets. Why doesn't he use corporate resources to tell his customers he is giving the max to Mitt?

He previously gave the max to Rudy Giuliani and almost the max to the cursed free-speech-abridger John McCain.

Hey, don't blame Byrne for inconsistency. He and his company are under SEC investigation and a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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