"For Bixby's first six years," says Wold, "they sold corn-burning stoves. They were state of the art. They were selling them all over the country. Then all of a sudden ethanol came in, and the price of corn went from $2 to $8 a bushel," spelling the end of the stove.
"About that time," Wold continues, "they got attracted to this process—extremely innovative—where coal is not burned but heated, so that it gives off nowhere near the emissions of burning coal, creating natural gas and carbon that later can be used for jet fuel."
What went wrong at Bixby? Says Wold obliquely: "A lot of greedy factors got involved along the way. Bob was not one of them." That greediness, he says, "led to a lot of back-stabbing," of which Walker was a casualty.
The government's complaint says that Walker, after having been enjoined from trying to raise any more money for Bixby, continued to do so. It says, too, that he continued to try to run the company's affairs in secret, through surrogates. Finally, it accuses him of having engaged in witness tampering (a federal offense) by trying to influence the testimony of a person in an official proceeding.
Asked if Walker has any ongoing relationship with Select Comfort, Wold says no; "He sleeps on it, that's all."