On Thursday, Patrick Byrne stepped away from his position as chief executive of online retail giant Overstock.com. Massive public attention was drawn to Byrne’s relationship with a Russian spy sentenced to 18 months in prison for her infiltration in American politics.
The entrepreneur’s romantic involvement with Maria Butina is seen as a key reason for his leaving. Butina was a Russian spy jailed after pleading guilty to being an unregistered agent of Russia, as well as attempting to infiltrate conservative political circles to represent Russian interests prior to and following the 2016 presidential election.
“In July I came forward to a small set of journalists regarding my involvement in certain government matters,” Byrne confessed in his letter to shareholders.
Byrne announced over the last two weeks in numerous public announcements that he has been involved with the “deep state” where he interacted with “Men in Black” with their “Clinton Investigation” and a “Russia Investigation.” He made references mainly to the Clintons and Russian tampering with the U.S. election system, political espionage, and violating the rule of law.
At first Byrne’s announcements regarding his leaving caused Overstock’s stock price to plummet. However, since news regarding Byrne’s resignation, the company’s stocks have risen again, skyrocketing in excess of 10% on Thursday.
Byrne said in an interview with Fox News contributor Sara Carter that he chose to confess as he grew disillusioned with how the FBI’s Justice Department handled his case regarding Butina’s investigation.
Byrne announced that he is sad to go in his Thursday statement.
“While I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock.”
“Doing so was not my first choice, but I was reminded of the damage done to our nation for three years and felt my duty as a citizen precluded me from staying silent any longer,” Byrne said in a letter addressed to shareholders. “Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support, my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business,” he added.
The ex-Overstock CEO expressed his concerns as an U.S. citizen who held many secrets.
“For three years I have watched my country pull itself apart while I knew many answers, and I set my red line at seeing civil violence breaking out. My Rabbi made me see that ‘coming forward’ meant telling the public (not just the government) the truth.”
“I now plan on leaving things to the esteemed Department of Justice (which I have doubtless already angered enough by going public) and disappearing for some time.” Byrne concluded.
Jonathan Johnson, Overstock board member and president of Overstock’s blockchain subsidiary Medici Ventures will be assigned interim CEO.