Although independent candidate Karl Walter Miller is unlikely to win his bid to represent Florida’s 18th Congressional District this year, former business associates and acquaintances of the conspiracy-mongering candidate worry over his intentions in running for office.
Miller, who says his initials “K.W.” stand for “Keep Winning,” has already made national headlines for his outpouring of farcical conspiracy theories and use of QAnon social media tags online. The outlandish QAnon conspiracy theory hangs on the baseless notion that Democrats and Hollywood figures belong to a massive child-sex-trafficking ring. QAnon believers have been retweeted by President Donald Trump and content related to the conspiracy theory has been share by his son, Eric. Last year, the FBI listed QAnon among the “fringe conspiracy theories very likely to motivate some domestic extremists to commit criminal, sometimes violent activity.”
In Facebook videos filmed in the corner of a room identified by a source as the bedroom of Miller’s Wilmington, North Carolina, home, Miller pitches himself to Florida voters on his business leadership background, claiming decades of experience in the global energy market.
Right Wing Watch reviewed publicly available documents and interviewed several individuals familiar with Miller’s personal and business relationships, many of whom requested anonymity for fear Miller would retaliate against them personally and professionally for speaking to us. Those sources portrayed Miller as smooth-talking and manipulative—a man who exploits people who enter his orbit for his own financial gain, often to their detriment. They say Miller crashed several businesses into the ground, orchestrated smear campaigns attacking former associates, and solicited millions of dollars for projects he never produced.
A Campaign Run on Conspiracy Theories
Miller’s campaign social media feeds read like a greatest-hits album of right-wing conspiracy theories and proclamations, many of which are so extreme that one could be forgiven for thinking it was meant as satire or parody.
“There were seven founding fathers. I am the eighth,” Miller proclaimed on the Fourth of July.
Miller, who has often talked about himself in third person, has claimed that he would have 10 times more followers on Twitter if the site wasn’t rigged against him, demanded the arrest of billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, and proposed that the United States erect a monument to Goya brand canned beans, which recently became a right-wing favorite after Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue heaped praise on Trump earlier this month.
He’s fond of placing celebrities, including Paris Hilton and Beyoncé “on notice.” Miller notably claimed that Beyoncé is not Black, but rather an Italian woman named Ann Marie Lastrassi who worships Satan. “This is all part of the Soros Deep State agenda for the Black Lives Matter movement,” he tweeted. ”BEYONCÉ YOU ARE ON NOTICE!”
“I will be President of Wakanda in 2032, after my two terms as President of the United States,” Miller tweeted on July 20, referring to the fictional African country in the film “Black Panther.” He added: “I am a racial healer.”
In a since-deleted video shared to his Twitter account on July 3, Miller reassured his followers that he was not afraid of “the boogeyman.” It is not clear who or what Miller was referring to, but in the accompanying video, he goes on to refer to himself as the “boogeyman,” and names “RINOs” and “globalists” among those who presumably need to fear him. (On the far right, “RINO” is shorthand for “Republican in name only,” and “globalist” is often used as a code word for Jews.)
“My codename is ‘Mr. Nobody’ for 30 years,” Miller told viewers while hype music played. “Let’s put it this way: If Mr. Nobody shows up at your doorstep, you got a problem. I am the boogeyman.”
The video paused momentarily and a computer-generated fireball explodes on screen over Miller’s face.
“And I’m coming after the leftists, the liberals, the RINOs, and the globalists, the RINO-traitors,” Miller said.
Miller deleted most of the content, including this video, from his Twitter account after the platform announced last week it would be cracking down on accounts spreading the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Comedian Tim Heidecker has jokingly claimed on multiple occasions that Miller is a character of his creation, which may have confused some observers. When reached via email, Heidecker clarified that Miller was not actually one of his fictitious characters, adding that when he interviewed Miller to ridicule him on his “Office Hours Live” comedy podcast with co-hosts DJ Douggpound and Vic Berger, it seemed that Miller was serious about seeking office.
‘Mr. Nobody’ Goes to South Africa
While his conspiracy theories and online personality may be the stuff of comedy, Miller takes himself and his business ventures seriously. In his candidate bio, Miller claims to be a “pioneer in the Global Power and Natural Gas industry, having led deregulation, market reform and planning efforts in the United States, Nordic Markets, UK, Germany and Australia.”
His bio makes no mention of sub-Saharan Africa, where years ago Miller operated businesses providing “risk-management” security services to energy companies, according to a 2016 article in the Wilmington Business Review Journal. In 2014, Miller created a subsidiary company that claimed to provide “on-the-ground, in-the-air and technological risk-mitigation services” to its clients—essentially armed guards and surveillance for private game reserves and private game farms.
According to a former associate and publicly available records, Miller abandoned those business efforts in 2016, leaving a trail of wreckage in his wake. De Villiers Lamprecht, CEO of a South African security company in which Miller acquired a stake, told RWW that once Miller decided to pull out of the venture, he abruptly terminated contracts with clients, failed to pay office rent, left employees without jobs or compensation, and liquidated business assets. “He sold everything—firearms, furniture, vehicles,” Lamprecht said. “He kept the money.”
Lamprecht said that Miller sought unrealistic profit margins from his business in South Africa and that Miller’s efforts to meet financial goals had strained relationships with clients, many of whom, according to Lamprecht, were unsatisfied by the services that Miller was providing them.
“He came in with lots of promises. I don’t think it was malicious intent, initially. But he came in with no clue how to run the business, on this [South Africa] side,” Lamprecht said. “Secondly, he tried to squeeze money out of it as much as possible … Things just didn’t work out for him.” In South Africa, Lamprecht explained, security companies can take up to 10 years to turn a significant profit, and that was not a timeline that Miller appeared to have the patience for.
Miller and Lamprecht wound up in court in 2017 after Miller defaulted on a $500,000 payment he owed Lamprecht. Court records show that Miller was ordered to pay $440,000 of the owed sum. In retaliation, Lamprecht said, Miller carried out a “smear campaign” against him over the course of the case, contacting clients with allegations that Lamprecht’s company was mismanaged and overvalued.
Meanwhile, Miller continued to solicit financial investments by creating a wildlife conservation fund that never fulfilled its promises, and for which $1.5 million of invested money remains wholly unaccounted for, multiple sources told RWW. A press release states that Miller sought to raise $500,000 in August 2016 for “a critically needed quick reaction Anti-Poaching Helicopter” to protect endangered species. According to a March 2017 fundraising document, Miller sought an additional $1 million to fund helicopters to protect rhinos, claiming that the funds were needed before the beginning of April 2017, when necessary helicopter import permits would supposedly expire. Two individuals familiar with Miller’s business dealings in South Africa say the helicopters were not purchased and that Miller did not spend the money he raised for rhino conservation.
“Karl was unable to put together any rhino conservation efforts,” Lamprecht said.
The conservation fund’s nonprofit status was automatically revoked in the United States because Miller never filed tax documents, public records indicate. Records show that Miller also neglected to file similar paperwork in South Africa. Although the fund is now legally dissolved, the organization’s site and donation portal remain active.
Gayle Aschenbrenner, who was listed in Miller’s March 2017 fundraising document as “Director of Philanthropy” for the GES Africa Conservation Fund, told RWW when reached via text message that she was never compensated for her work.
“Karl never paid me or the team I worked with,” Aschenbrenner said. “When I left the project, I left Karl Miller and never looked back.”
Sources indicate that the primary financial victim of Miller’s business ventures in South Africa is Florida investor Maureen Daly, who is said to have transferred between $3 million and $4 million to a group of Miller’s shell companies—that is, corporations without active business operations or significant assets. Miller’s shell companies, broadly referred to as “NEAH GES”, include Miller’s wildlife conservation fund, for which public records state Daly was an initial director. Business records list a Florida home as the operation’s headquarters; the same home is listed as the headquarters of Miller’s congressional campaign.
Miller remains active in the energy sector to this day. Last year, he began seeking investment for a new project in South Africa that a financial expert who requested anonymity and whom Miller had approached for business guidance told RWW has the ultimate goal of undermining and potentially taking over the public electric utility ESKOM, which is currently run by the government of South Africa. The financial expert told RWW by text message: “[T]here was this underlying message of kick [South African President Cyril] Ramaphosa out and get the old regime in to run it.”He added that Miller “was or imagined himself in a position to lead the Afrikaaners back into power.” Afrikaaners comprise the white minority that held power in South Africa for decades under the racial-segregation regime of apartheid, until the Black-led African National Congress prevailed in its campaign of resistance.
In a July 28 tweet, Miller wrote: “I intend to impose ‘crippling sanction’ on the criminal African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. They are a Marxist criminal organization. Stole everything in SA that was not nailed to the floor.”
From South Africa to the U.S.: Miller’s Business Dealings Follow an Alarming Pattern
One of Miller’s few mentions of his business dealings in Africa came during a July 6 live broadcast on his campaign’s Facebook page, during which Miller attacked racial justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, citing his experience on the continent.
“I’ve worked in Africa. I’ve been in a ghetto. I’ve been with more poverty-stricken Black human beings than anybody in this country, I promise you. And I did it for years,” Miller said. “I’m still very involved in Southern Africa, OK? I know what ghetto is. I know what shantytown is. And I go in there, and I help, and I give money, and I help them. And these are people who have self-respect and pride. They don’t shoot each other. They don’t kill each other’s babies.”
Miller then launched into a rant about what he called “Black-on-Black genocide” in cities like Chicago, asking his viewers: “Where is Black Lives Matter? Where are the Black entertainers who are supposed to be leading their communities? They’re nowhere to be found.”
When asked about Miller’s comments, Lamprecht said, “I would not say he loves Africans. Definitely not.”
But if Miller’s time in South Africa informed his views on race and politics, it poses questions about how his experience on the continent—his shady business dealings, litigation, smear campaigns, and all—may have informed his business dealings in the U.S.
The troubles that Miller’s former South Africa business associates described to RWW closely resemble those experienced by Miller’s associates in the U.S., several of whom entered litigation against Miller to recoup damages. Court records reveal that Miller’s business conduct in Africa was not an anomaly, but rather followed a pattern of questionable conduct and conflict.
North Carolina dental surgeon Stephanie Hackney sued Miller last year alleging trademark infringement and failure to respect a noncompete agreement, court records show. By Miller’s own account, the duo had entered business with each other while in a “personal relationship,” and Miller claims to have left the business when the relationship “began to deteriorate.” Hackney’s lawsuit alleges that Miller left her business and started a similar dental business using a model that closely resembled Hackney’s and a logo that Hackney alleged was “a confusingly similar replica” of her own. When reached via phone, Hackney declined to comment on the matter, citing the fact that her lawsuit against Miller is ongoing.
Miller was also sued by MMC Energy Inc., a company that he co-founded, after it removed him as its CEO in 2007, citing “numerous deficiencies in his performance” and concerns that Miller’s business conduct could attract unwanted attention from federal regulators. According to court records, Miller negotiated a $1.1 million lump payment in severance and 1.5 years of continued health coverage benefits from the company on his departure. But associates of the company alleged in court documents that Miller deposited the lump sum and immediately engaged in a “campaign of disparagement and interference” against the company and its leadership to shareholders, investors, advisers, lenders, and vendors—not unlike the “smear campaign” that Lamprecht alleges Miller ran against him in South Africa. Court documents state that Miller even went so far as to file a “preliminary proxy statement” with the Securities and Exchange Commission that contained “disparaging statements concerning MMC’s business, Board of Directors and management.” Karl Miller’s countersuit was “dismissed with prejudice,” and he was forced to settle the original complaint.
Court records show that in both cases involving Hackney and MMC Energy Inc., Miller failed to pay his attorneys, resulting in the termination of their assistance in his cases.
In 2012, two North Carolina companies sued and were awarded financial settlements from Miller. FIA Card Services, a subsidiary of Bank of America, sued Miller for $30,000. A fencing company sued Miller for more than $8,000. Both lawsuits were instigated after Miller failed to pay money owed to the companies.
Former Associates Concerned by Miller’s Election Efforts
Individuals who spoke with RWW about Miller’s business record said they had taken note of Miller’s political aspirations and expressed skepticism and concern about the future of his campaign. One individual, who asked not to be named for fear of personal retribution, said they were worried that if Miller was able to obtain any political influence with his campaign that he may wield that influence to enrich himself at the public trough.
Federal Election Commission records accessed July 22 show that Miller’s campaign has neglected to file any documents related to his campaign other than a statement of organization submitted in April. The campaign missed the FEC’s July 15 quarterly filing deadline, meaning that it remains unknown how much money Miller has raised and where that money has gone.
Lamprecht said that he was aware of Miller’s viral conspiracy theorizing, and that it did not surprise him.
“I saw that tweet about Beyoncé. I was not amazed,” Lamprecht said. “It’s him. He’s a person with no integrity, and he’s always looking for a fight.”
RWW emailed a request for comment to two email addresses listed for Miller on his campaign’s statement of organization and one Keith Bessette, who is named on the campaign’s statement of organization as the campaign’s custodian of records and treasurer. We did not receive a response prior to the publication of this article.