Byrne is the CEO of Overstock.com and the present chairman of the EdChoice Board. In 2007, he and his family financed over $4 million of the $5 million raised by Families for Choice, a PAC formed to support vouchers during a 2007 referendum in Utah. Upon realizing that vouchers were rejected by 62% of voters, he referred to the referendum as a “statewide IQ test that Utahns failed.” He publicly concluded that “They [the parents of Utah] don’t care enough about their kids.”
A month prior to the vote a video of Byrne surfaced in which he said, referring to the minority dropouts of Utah, “You may as well burn those kids. That’s the end of their life.” When asked by the NAACP to apologize, he refused.
Byrne has contributed to pro-school choice candidates outside of his state. For example, he gave $465,000 to Indiana candidates and PACs, beginning with Mitch Daniels’s campaign. Daniels was a founding Board member of EdChoice who enacted both voucher and neo-voucher programs in Indiana.