Alex Jones and Our Weird Bankruptcy Laws

The conspirator is living large while his victims go unpaid.

AP (“Sandy Hook families offer to settle Alex Jones’ $1.5 billion legal debt for a minimum of $85 million“):

Sandy Hook families who won nearly $1.5 billion in legal judgments against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for calling the 2012 Connecticut school shooting a hoax have offered to settle that debt for only pennies on the dollar — at least $85 million over 10 years.

As slimy a figure as Jones is, the judgment always struck me as farcical. There was simply no way he was ever going to be able to pay even a fraction of $1.5 billion. (Cue Dr. Evil voice.) The $85 million amount is much more reasonable—and only because Jones is so wealthy.

But the real story here isn’t the absurdity of civil court judgments but rather of the legal loopholes that have thus far let Jones thumb his nose at them.

The offer was made in Jones’ personal bankruptcy case in Houston last week. In a legal filing, lawyers for the families said they believed the proposal was a viable way to help resolve the bankruptcy reorganization cases of both Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems.

But in the sharply worded document, the attorneys continued to accuse the Infowars host of failing to curb his personal spending and “extravagant lifestyle,” failing to preserve the value of his holdings, refusing to sell assets and failing to produce certain financial documents.

“Jones has failed in every way to serve as the fiduciary mandated by the Bankruptcy Code in exchange for the breathing spell he has enjoyed for almost a year. His time is up,” lawyers for the Sandy Hook families wrote.

The families’ lawyers offered Jones two options: either liquidate his estate and give the proceeds to creditors, or pay them at least $8.5 million a year for 10 years — plus 50% of any income over $9 million per year.

But, of course, plaintiff’s attorneys don’t actually get to make these rules. It’s mere bluster.

During a court hearing in Houston, Jones’ personal bankruptcy lawyer, Vickie Driver, suggested Monday that the $85 million, 10-year settlement offer was too high and unrealistic for Jones to pay.

“There are no financials that will ever show that Mr. Jones ever made that … in 10 years,” she said.

In a new bankruptcy plan filed on Nov. 18, Free Speech Systems said it could afford to pay creditors about $4 million a year, down from an estimate earlier this year of $7 million to $10 million annually. The company said it expected to make about $19.2 million next year from selling the dietary supplements, clothing and other merchandise Jones promotes on his shows, while operating expenses including salaries would total about $14.3 million.

That Jones still has a show and is still raking in millions of dollars a year after being exposed as a fraud is remarkable to me. But, hey, that’s America.

Personally, Jones listed about $13 million in total assets in his most recent financial statements filed with the bankruptcy court, including about $856,000 in various bank accounts.

Under the bankruptcy case orders, Jones had been receiving a salary of $20,000 every two weeks, or $520,000 a year. But this month, a court-appointed restructuring officer upped Jones’ pay to about $57,700 biweekly, or $1.5 million a year, saying he has been “grossly” underpaid for how vital he is to the media company.

Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez on Monday rejected the $1.5 million salary, saying the pay raise didn’t appear to have been made properly under bankruptcy laws and a hearing needed to be held.

If Jones doesn’t accept the families’ offer, Lopez would determine how much he would pay the families and other creditors.

I honestly don’t understand how someone with this much income and wealth is even allowed to declare bankruptcy. Much less continue to draw a $20,000 biweekly salary. Not a lot of folks make $520,000 a year, let alone while not having to meet their financial obligations—especially those imposed by the legal system.

The point of the bankruptcy system, at least as I understand it, is to allow people to recover from financial mistakes rather than be ruined for life. And I support that. But it seems absurd to allow it to be used to avoid meeting one’s financial obligations while still being permitted to live like a rich man. I’m not sure where the line should be drawn but something around the national or local median income seems much more reasonable.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott says:

    The point of the bankruptcy system, at least as I understand it, is to allow people to recover from financial mistakes rather than be ruined for life. And I support that. But it seems absurd to allow it to be used to avoid meeting one’s financial obligations while still being permitted to live like a rich man.

    Hmmm…There is an ex-President that resembles that remark.

  2. Rick DeMent says:

    The more money you have, the more legal “process” you can afford. The system is rigged for the wealthy by the wealthy. it’s getting to the point where accountability is only for he poor and lower classes.

    Example. I’m on the board of our HOA. We have a unit that is empty right now that is owned by a trust for a woman who has sever disabilities. The trust was set up by the woman’s parents. Her father was living in the unit that was owned by him and her mother (who is a Michigan State Senator). The mother and father owned the unit jointly but have since divorced and the father was living there alone. We have pretty strict rules about renting units in that we pretty much don’t allow it (there is one legacy renter out of 54 units).

    Over a year ago the father died and the condo was put in a trust for the care of the daughter. she don’t reside in the condo and have never done so. Shortly after the trust was formed the Mother decided to rent out the unit calming that since the trust was in the name of the disabled daughter that a clause in the master deed allowing a owner to rent out the unit for a limited time if they have a medical issue that put them in a care facility. It’s basically a medical hardship clause that requires you live in the unit for at least 6 months before you can claim this exemption. The purpose of the rule is to not force a foreclosure on a owner who is going through long term care. Clearly the this situation does not meet this condition for a number of reasons.

    The State Senator mother has a number of investment properties around our area. Well over a dozen. We speculate that the reason for the trust was nothing more then a cynical way of skirting the no renting clause. The daughter has never lived there, can’t live there on her own and lives with her mother who provides her care. After 6 months of going back an forth she got a lawyer. The problem is that means out association has pay legal counsel to adjudicate this. She has very deep pockets, the HOA doesn’t. She is willing to pay for a legal fight claiming her daughter “desperately” needs the income for her care.

    So now we have to make the decision to go toe to toe with her at a huge expense (we have always keep our budget pretty tight which, I don’t agree with for precisely this sort of reason but there it is). Ever thgohut we are 100% in the right we might at some point have to cave. We have had to deal with a few other deep pocket people but this woman is a whole different level then the retirees who have a few rental properties are are otherwise well off.

    The law has become less about what it right and who can afford a years long legal battle. “Justice” is simply out of reach for the vast majority of people.

  3. Charley in Cleveland says:

    Bankruptcy shouldn’t be a shield to civil liability. The deterrence intended by a court verdict is for naught when the defendant can return to their prejudgment lifestyle while the plaintiff jumps through hoop after hoop without seeing the compensation a jury decided was due. Jones’ post verdict remedy was to ask the judge for remittitur if he believed the verdict was inequitable. Instead he opted for bankruptcy and since then has been living large as a professional bullshitter and con artist, adding further insult to the Sandy Hook parents. It doesn’t matter that the original verdict was fantastical…it was supposed to send a message about responsibility to Jones and his ilk. Thanks to a twisted version of bankruptcy, Jones has no incentive to change.

  4. KM says:

    The point of the bankruptcy system, at least as I understand it, is to allow people to recover from financial mistakes rather than be ruined for life.

    Certain people and certain types of mistakes. The law is written as it is for a reason. Student loans for instance cannot be discharged specifically because lobbyists pushed for it years ago- a major reason why we’re facing a crisis today. If someone could have declared bankruptcy from the $200K student loan in their 20’s after proving they legit couldn’t afford to pay it off, they’ve be back on their feet by their 30’s in time to have bought a house and all the other big ticket items the economy needs Millennials and Gen Z to start gobbling up.

    The bigger point is that Jones is racking up the other debtors’ bills so that the Sandy Hook people will get a smaller cut of the pie somewhat on purpose. He’s an ass so he was never gonna live less to show he was sorry and pay his dues but intentionally screwing over one debtor in this way is not that unusual. It’s a way to flip them off and deny them the max amount you can. “I may have to pay you but you’re getting as little as possible!” Jones gets to live like he always has and spite his victims because a judge thought $40K a month is “reasonable” to live on – a whole year’s salary to half or more of this nation. The judge could have directed he get $5K a month and he’d have been fine (mortgages and the like could have been paid out separately then the “salary”) but no, he has to be able to live “in the lifestyle he’s accustomed to” like going bankrupt won’t change that.

  5. CSK says:

    Why doesn’t Jones take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s playbook and ask his fans to foot the bill?

  6. Kathy says:

    I’m going to get flack for this…

    If I were the plaintiffs, I’d settle for one pound of flesh payable in fifteen minutes.

  7. Bill Jempty says:

    I have my own personal bankruptcy experience.

    In 2008, I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. That made me unable to work the whole time from then till 2015. My medical bills were huge and we only got by some months food and electric wise due to the generosity of our church parishioners.

    Around Jan 2009, I was no longer able to pay the mortgage. Our lender filed papers in May 2009 to foreclose. You won’t believe this, little pro se me kept us in the house for almost 6 years. The lender had a foreclosure law firm that was good but whenever it came to the court appearances till May 2013 they’d have some locals do the work and I’ll just say this they were horrible.

    Four almost four years the case spun its wheels. I defeated a motion for summary judgment in early 2012. Finally the case was tried in the summer of 2013, we lost, we appealed and in the meantime a sale date was set for our house in Dec 2013.

    Lawyers then would charge 4K to do a Chapter 7. I did it on my own with just minor paperwork glitch. A bankruptcy stay stops all matters and including foreclosure sales. During the stay our lender motioned and got approval so they could still sell the home right then and there but they didn’t make the move.

    No problem, my bankruptcy was discharged in Mar 2014, we lost our appeal in Jan 2015 and moved out of the house in April 2015. My book business started in April 2014, but didn’t explode till Nov 2014*. By 2015 my health stabilized and my business could allow us to rent.

    In summary, a bankruptcy bought me and the wife an additional year and 4 months. That allowed us to get on our feet again.

    Bankruptcy laws are drawn so debtors can get on their feet again. Some people take questionable advantage of these laws. People do that every day in society. I basically lived rent/mortgage free for 6 years and 3 months. It was that or drop dead because I couldn’t get the treatments I needed.

    *- Started selling books, appropriately, April Fools Day 2014. Made $300+ my first month, between $250 and $125 from May to September. In October 2014 I published my best seller then and its still my bestseller today. That month I made $900, and one month later $2000. The rest is history.

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    I believe you’ve shared a few of your books here before, but what is your most popular one?

  9. Bill Jempty says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I believe you’ve shared a few of your books here before, but what is your most popular one?

    I have never publicized my books here. Why when I use a pseudonym?

    I write LGBT Fiction
    My wife works for the local Roman Catholic diocese and we get our health insurance through them
    20+ years ago the diocese, while my wife was on pregnancy hospital bedrest, threatened to stop her insurance because we couldn’t pay. Life is sacred but money is more sacred in the eyes of the diocese.
    Her current pastor, a little minded man who can’t do administrative work for our church without my wife- like when he called her to empty their post office mail box when she was on vacation- in the last year disapproved two time off requests by my wife. One a one day off so she could spend time with her sister in NY and the other two weeks in a row vacation (she is due 4 every year) so she could travel to the PI for a family reunion.
    Oh and a co-worker of Dear wife was dismissed five years back for bogus reasons.
    DW and I aren’t both eligible for medicare till late 2026
    My book business is great but I’m super cautious. One really bad down tick and I could have problems. When covid first broke out I applied and was granted a $1o,ooo SBA loan because business was off and we were still renting. A few months later I sold the rights to one of my books and things took off. I paid the loan off in 2021 the same year I bought the condo DW and I live in.
    So we don’t trust her employer if they learned what I wrote.

  10. Bill Jempty says:

    I made a bunch of typos (life for wife) and forgot words in what I wrote above. Most of them are fixed. Even though I’m a writer I make lots of those mistakes (Most infamously when I wrote ‘The man walked into the elephant instead of elevator) and have mentioned it on this forum.. That makes a good editor a requirement for my writing.

  11. Bill Jempty says:

    I spilled alot of beans above. Somebody at the diocese could see it and figure it out. Business has been great and if DW and I could live fancily in the PI on mediocre book business and Social Security. Let anyone figure it out if they want to. If I have Wifi and my stratomatic baseball I can do ok.

  12. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    I have never publicized my books here. Why when I use a pseudonym? […] So we don’t trust her employer if they learned what I wrote.

    Do you use a pseudonym here? (A quick click on your name’s link suggests you do not — also, oof, that first blog post in a doozy, I’m very sorry)

    If you don’t trust your wife’s employer, you may want to switch to a pseudonym here, just so a trivial google search on your name doesn’t lead to information you don’t want them to see. And then maybe a spree of banal posts under your real name here and elsewhere to just make it marginally harder to find the “I write LGBT fiction”.

    The level of insanity out there is high, and vulnerable people may need to take steps to not be caught up in it. Your home state seems to be cultivating the insanity.

    It wouldn’t protect you against someone very savvy with hunting people down, but it would protect against a “That Bill guy seems smug, who is he? [types in name in google] Ugh why do we have people like that here…” dude, and usually problems start at that level.

  13. Bill Jempty says:


    Do you use a pseudonym here?


    If you don’t trust your wife’s employer, you may want to switch to a pseudonym here,

    Technically I’m supposed to be banned here and only my WP account allows me to post. The one with an image of a crocodile with a human hand sticking out of its mouth..

    And then maybe a spree of banal posts

    Like writing about my cat, strat-o-matic baseball, the new 55 in tv I bought last week.

    “I write LGBT fiction”.

    I’ll switch to I am a writer of dung beetle fiction. Instead of my wife getting fired, the men in white coats will visit me instead.

    The level of insanity out there is high

    Like I wrote just above. Did I mention the unfinished story* of mine involving a Gorgon like creature on Corsica and the Olson twins?

    Your home state seems to be cultivating the insanity.

    “Welcome to South Florida the rules are different here
    The government is broke but that;s just a joke come back and spend some more next day
    In South Florida they pay morality cops to go to nudist bars everyday
    Hey what a great way to receive your daily pay!
    Welcome to South Florida, a driveby shooting may cost you your life….”

    A song from Talk radio 30 years ago or as well as I can remember the lyrics anymore.

    “That Bill guy seems smug, who is he? [types in name in google] Ugh why do we have people like that here…”

    Well my parents weren’t interested in watching Perry Mason one 1960 night…..

    I’m thoroughly stuck on writing my story. One of my characters is on the verge of suicide and I’m finding it hard to write. So I’m writing posts here.

    *It’s a recurring character of mine having a nightmare.

  14. Joe says:

    a little minded man who can’t do administrative work

    @Bill Jempty: I have no doubt that type of employer would recognize himself immediately in that comment.

  15. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Technically I’m supposed to be banned here and only my WP account allows me to post.

    What did you do? 😉

    Oh, god, I’m beginning to get a few vague memories, but possibly of someone else. Maybe our fine hosts will think a timeout was enough.

    Anyway, having once had a lunatic stalk me from Transformers (robots in disguise!) discussion boards around the internet because I told him he was being an asshole when he was being an asshole (It started with a question of who was reformatted into Cyclonus in the 1986 movie), I think having pseudonyms just keep things tidy and in their places, at least for garden variety nonsense.

    And innocuous crap provides excellent camouflage — few people will hate you enough to go to the third page of Google results, and those that randomly do are usually too dumb to put things together.

  16. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: … if only someone could perpetrate a “hoax” on him, the world would be a better place.

  17. Paul L. says:

    It was a star chamber trial. Same people who condemned Alex Jones defended Oberlin College with Gibson’s Bakery.

    I remember when a progressive hero prosecutor declared bankruptcy to avoid paying any civil penalties for his misconduct.