Missouri Senate candidate Courtland Sykes: Who the hell is this guy?
Courtland Sykes, a Missouri Republican running for Senate in 2018, sparked national outrage when he posted his inflammatory views on women’s rights (and women in general) to his campaign’s Facebook page on Tuesday. Sykes originally sent a document detailing his views on women’s rights to the St. Louis Post Dispatch during fall 2017, when he was first interviewed to discuss his candidacy, but gained negligible media attention — until now.
“I want to come home to a home-cooked dinner at six every night, one that she [his fiance Chanel Rion] fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives — think Norman Rockwell here and Gloria Steinem be damned.”
Sykes’ document continues:
“I don’t buy into radical feminism’s crazed definition of modern womanhood and I never did. They don’t own that definition — and never did. They made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads.”
But who is Courtland Sykes? What do we know about him in a general sense? To put it bluntly: not much. His official website is extremely vague on everything: his policy positions, who he is, where he works — the list goes on. A quick web search to learn more information about Sykes, his campaign and his past turns up virtually nothing aside from recent news articles about his anti-feminist remarks or his official website. The complete lack of any information about him prior to his campaign is alarming and incredibly suspicious. It’s almost as if, prior to a year ago, he almost didn’t exist. But he’s a real human person, so that obviously can’t be true. What’s the deal?
The available information about Sykes is scant. So let’s run down what we do know so far.
He’s 37, a 2014 graduate from Harvard Extension School with a degree in social sciences, and a Navy veteran. Sykes is from Hot Springs, Ark., but moved to Jackson County, Missouri about a year ago — Independence, to be precise. His business, a defense consulting firm called Talosorion group, has no clients and it is unclear where it is located. He is listed as the managing director. There are no business filings in either Missouri or Arkansas to indicate that Talosorion is a legitimate, existing business, so it may not exist at all.
Sykes refused to talk about his business in an interview with The St. Louis Post Dispatch, but to demonstrate a connection to Missouri despite only living in-state for about a year, he mentioned his family vacationed at the Ozarks when he was younger. He would not say where specifically when asked in the interview.
From March 2016 to Jan. 2017, Sykes was the military and veterans affairs representative for U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman, a Republican in Arkansas. Sykes filed for his candidacy for Senate on Sept. 17, 2017, according to Federal Elections Commission documents, but problems with his applications on two occasions caused them to be sent back.
FEC records show that no one has donated to his campaign so far, aside from his own $500 donation. It is unclear, then, how he has and is paying for his website and promotional campaign videos. This is included at the bottom of his website:
Upon searching for this PAC or organization or group, however, there were no results, so there is still no indication of how Sykes and his campaign are truly being funded.
What we know from his website:
He describes himself as an enthusiastic supporter of President Donald Trump and his political agenda, though Trump has not endorsed Sykes and has instead endorsed the Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. But it is clear Sykes is trying to capitalize on the anti-establishment, right-wing populist attitudes presently favored by many American voters, and his campaign thus far attempts to cultivate the image that he is a political outsider like Donald Trump.
His official website lays out three (vague) reasons why he wants to serve in the Senate. The first is to “restore honor in politics,” which he describes as corrupt (that’s a no-brainer). “I am your Term Limits candidate” is the last and only other sentence in relation to restoring honor in politics. So we can assume that he believes term limits for Congress would restore honor in politics by reducing corruption, and/or infer he doesn’t intend to be a career politician, because he is an “outsider.”
His other two reasons for seeking office:
His policy positions are remarkably vague with the exception of “draining the swamp,” where he includes a photo of Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. He says career politicians are swamp politicians, which many agree with. He supports building Trump’s wall on the Mexican border, wants to cut government spending and balance the budget, supports education control from the state level, supports harsh enforcement for illegal immigration, and opposes abortion. And here’s an excerpt about his views on the military:
Hostile rhetoric that advocates for war with Iran is a page straight out of the neoconservative playbook, and is one of the few specific points included in any of his policies.
What else can we piece together about this very private and/or secretive person?
Prior to the influx of national media attention, Sykes obtained minimal coverage aside from his avid support for Republican Roy Moore, who ran for Alabama Senate at the end of 2017 in a special election to fill the vacant seat left by now United States Attorney General Jefferson Sessions. Moore ultimately lost the race to Democratic opponent Doug Jones, which many insist is due to allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Moore against underage girls in years prior. Sykes released a lengthy video supporting Moore and criticizing the media for its coverage of the allegations against Moore — specifically targeting The Washington Post.
The video rails against the “lying” and “liberal” American media, which Sykes claims is propaganda and “fake news” intent on squashing conservativism, and thus, ultimately destroying America.
The video is produced by Walk The Lion Productions, but the website can best be described as a “shell”: the site only says “Boston| London |Sydney,” and underneath this is the only clickable link, which is to an email for media inquiries.
Perhaps Walk The Lion is newly formed, and so it hasn’t established an informative web presence yet — despite existing in three different cities in three different countries. Walk The Lion also doesn’t feature any samples of its work — not even Sykes’ aforementioned 40 minute video. And oddly enough, the company flubbed the copyright at the bottom as well.
But this is essentially ALL of the information on Courtland Sykes that’s available if you search him online. Have sites with information about him prior to his campaign been scrubbed from the internet? I don’t know, but it seems like it.
Until frustration and curiosity prompt enough research that explains it: his real name is Bobby Sykes.
Courtland is his middle name, and it isn’t uncommon to go by a middle name, but it does explain why searching “Courtland Sykes” reveals scant information. Searching “Bob Courtland Sykes” or “Bob C Sykes” still doesn’t return a wealth of information, but there is some.
Public records from Arkansas courts did not return results for Courtland Sykes, which is one of the first places I tried to search. Similiarly, searching voter registration in Arkansas for Courtland Sykes didn’t return results, but there is a Bob Courtland Sykes still registered to vote in Arkansas who is the same age as Courtland Sykes. Past Arkansas court cases returned results for Bob Courtland Sykes:
The oldest cases for Bob Cortland Sykes (notice the difference in spelling; it could be an error, or maybe this is not the same Sykes discussed in this article thus far) from 1997 are for a misdemeanor traffic offense of having expired state tags (defendant plead guilty), and a separate 1997 case where the driver was alleged to be driving carelessly, and driving without liability insurance (defendant plead not guilty). In 2014, Sykes was fined $375 for failure to present a driver’s license.
The most recent case from Sept. 2017 is against Bob Courtland Sykes, age 33, where he was sued over a debt he owed. Records show Sykes paid $80 to the debt the day after the case was initially filed.
The Bob Courtland Sykes listed above in court documents might not be the same person as the Republican Senate candidate, but this is at least a starting point and warrants more research.
Regardless of what you may think of his political positions or his campaign, it seems fair to say Sykes is extremely secretive and shady. As for why he is operating with such perceived secrecy, however, is still unclear.
If Sykes continues to receive media attention, hopefully more information will be available in the future as people begin to do more digging. As a Missouri resident, I consider Sykes an embarrassment and am acutely curious/concerned about his secrecy and shadiness in general.
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