As if to boost the brand of the League of Unrepentant Evildoers, Infowars founder Alex Jones has tried to join the likes of Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and the National Rifle Association in declaring bankruptcy as a way to evade multimillion-dollar court judgments against him. Jones is in the middle of multiple lawsuits over his assertions that small children massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, along with their grieving parents, were merely actors in an elaborate hoax.
Survivors of the 20 first graders and six adults killed in 2012 have made clear the massacre was real. They even got Jones to admit there was no hoax. But the fact that they even had to go to court to defend the truth against his absurd allegations is what merited the heavy financial penalties jurors have imposed on Jones. Because of his lies, grieving survivors were forced into hiding because of the deranged, foil-hat conspiracists Jones unleashed upon them.
Jones deserves to forfeit every dime of his ill-gotten gains. He caused real harm, and all indications are that he did it knowing that he was making up this Infowars nonsense out of thin air so he could profit off his gullible followers. But because of convoluted bankruptcy laws in Republican-dominated states like Texas, Jones might wind up paying nothing.
He is following in the footsteps of opioid maker Purdue Pharma, talcum-powder manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and the National Rifle Association in a bid to use federal bankruptcy loopholes to subvert the will of the courts. Purdue Pharma played a major role in creating and exploiting America’s catastrophic opioid-addiction epidemic. The company’s owners, the Sackler family, found ways to hide billions of dollars offshore. Then, despite their riches, they got themselves included in Purdue Pharma bankruptcy settlement to avoid financial liability for the millions of lives they ruined. Johnson & Johnson, reported to have $25 billion in cash reserves, filed to create a new company in Texas, then transferred all of $4.7 billion in talcum-powder product liability damages to that company, which then declared bankruptcy.
Jones clearly learned at the feet of the masters. He tried to create a shell company, Free Speech Systems, where he could dump all of his liabilities, including a $50 million Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit, and quickly declare bankruptcy. Last week, a federal bankruptcy judge in Houston put a hold on this nonsense after scrutinizing Jones’ personal spending habits and recognizing that he was hiding his true wealth.
“Without transparency, people lose faith in the process,” said Judge Christopher Lopez.
In reality, what’s happening here is clear as glass. The rich are exploiting the system so they can keep their riches. The courts cannot restore public faith. Congress is responsible for having passed the loophole-filled, convoluted laws that federal bankruptcy courts must follow. And only Congress can fix the problem.