Herschel Walker maintains a close friendship with a doctor who claims to be able to make gay people straight.
Herschel Walker, the ex-football player who announced Wednesday his campaign to unseat Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, maintains close ties to Jerry Mungadze, a homophobic gay conversion therapist.
Walker has the backing of former President Donald Trump, who mentioned a possible run by the Heisman Trophy winner in June. Trump's enthusiastic support for Walker, who spent months mulling over a run, prevented other GOP candidates from launching bids for a battleground seat crucial for Republicans to reclaim the Senate.
Mungadze has claimed that he can use crayon colors to determine if someone is gay or possessed by demons. And he's touted his ability to change the brain structure of gay patients to make them straight.
The two are close friends to this day, according to Mungadze, who told the American Independent Foundation they had dinner at Walker's home as recently as this year.
"He's one of my close friends; we've done a lot of stuff together," Mungadze said.
Mungadze wrote the foreword to Walker's 2009 book, "Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder." In the book, Walker says that he met Mungadze in the early 1980s and that Mungadze diagnosed him with dissociative identity disorder.
"Dr. Jerry described his procedures and proposed treatment for the part of me I had never truly understood," Walker wrote in his book. "He said his treatment would focus on the whole person rather than the separate parts or personalities I had created."
He goes on to write in the epilogue, "Dr. Jerry Mungadze taught me not to be afraid to look into my mirror of life and face the issues that have haunted me."
While Mungadze denies that he is a gay conversion therapist, he's claimed over and over that he can cure patients of their sexual orientation.
"The good news is, at least with the people that I've seen, not a lot of people, when the healing takes place, those areas of the brain that were showing the homosexuality show heterosexuality," Mungadze said on the evangelical Daystar TV network in 2013.
In an interview published in the Dallas Morning News after the release of the undercover documentary "Cure Me, I'm Gay" in 2014, which featured Mungadze, the therapist peddled homophobic theories about gay people.
"If anyone says people are born this way, they would have a hard time convincing the scientific world of that," Mungadze said. "But I've never made homosexuality an issue in therapy."
And he told televangelist Benny Hinn in 2013 that he can discern whether a patient is possessed by demons or is gay by giving them a box of crayons and watching them color a diagram of a brain.
"There's a certain color someone uses that I won't mention that tells me someone's been demonized," he said. "Everything that I talk about is based on numbers, is based on studies, which is what you do is when you're a scientist."
While Trump has labeled Walker "unstoppable," Republicans in Georgia worry the celebrity candidate comes with too much baggage.
A recent Associated Press investigation unearthed allegations of domestic abuse against Walker, as records reveal his ex-wife obtained a protective order against him after he allegedly pointed a pistol at her head and threatened to shoot her.
His team did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Walker's residence has also already dogged the candidate early into his nascent campaign. Walker made his name playing football for the University of Georgia, but he's long since been a resident of Texas.
His current wife is under investigation by Georgia election officials into whether she cast an illegal Georgia absentee ballot in the 2020 presidential race while living in Texas. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Julie Blanchard owns properties in both states.
"Herschel Walker will need to come back to Georgia and campaign. He will need to show that he is a conservative," said Doug Collins, who ran for the seat eventually won by Warnock and placed third in the special election behind Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.
Other Republicans have been more forceful in their critiques of Walker.
"Some of it's pretty bad, obviously: physical abuse and pulling a gun on his wife, if that's true," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Politico in July. "I want to win that race. And to the extent that he's handicapped by some of these things that would make that unlikely, I'd prefer to have somebody else."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.