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• Patrick Byrne resigned as CEO and board member at yesterday, to be succeeded on an interim basis by Jonathan E. Johnson III.

The resignation was tendered, Byrne said, because he had no choice “because of the attention stirred up by his public disclosure of a relationship with a woman accused of being a Russian agent,” the New York Times writes.

That Russian agent, as it happens was Maria Butina, who is “serving an 18-month prison term after being accused by federal prosecutors of trying to infiltrate powerful political circles in the United States at the direction of the Russian government. She ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.”

The Times explains: “Byrne’s relationship with the woman, Maria Butina, lasted three years, from 2015 to 2018, and eventually became romantic. It did not become widely known until last week, when Overstock took the unusual step of issuing a news release calling attention to it.” Byrne said that “he had met Ms. Butina at a libertarian convention in Las Vegas in 2015. Over the course of their relationship, he said, Ms. Butina spoke increasingly about meeting or seeking to meet people involved in the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, President Trump and others. That, he said, had made him wary. He eventually began communicating with the F.B.I. about his interactions with her.”

It was Byrne’s involvement with the investigation and along with it all sorts of political espionage that seems to have brought him down, largely because it created publicity that the company seems not to have wanted.
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