Democrats to probe Matthew Whitakers role with company that allegedly bilked customers of millions
Matthew Whitaker was previous Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff. Sessions submitted his resignation on Wednesday, one day after the 2018 midterm elections. USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Four House Democrats who are expected to lead committees when the new Congress convenes in January announced Wednesday they would investigate acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s involvement with World Patent Marketing, a company that allegedly bilked customers of millions of dollars.
Whitaker served on the company’s advisory board.
The lawmakers – Elijah Cummings of Maryland on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jerrold Nadler of New York on the Judiciary Committee, Frank Pallone of New Jersey on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Adam Schiff of California on the Intelligence Committee – said “serious questions are now arising about his fitness to serve in this position of trust.”
The Justice Department Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s appointment of Whitaker by asserting that his senior executive status at the department “unquestionably” authorized him to serve, despite his lack of Senate confirmation.
Before his appointment, Whitaker served as chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was fired Nov. 7.
The Federal Trade Commission announced charges last year against World Patent Marketing for an “invention-promotion scam” in which officials were “deceiving consumers and suppressing complaints about the company by using threats of criminal prosecution against dissatisfied customers.”
Democrats pointed to a Slate article that said Whitaker was involved in promoting “alleged innovations in hot tub design” for the company.
“The defendants promised to promote people’s inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return,” acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen stated in a news release. “Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained.”
World Patent Marketing agreed to a settlement banning the company from the industry and imposing a judgment of nearly $26 million, the FTC announced in May.
The Democratic members say court records include documents showing Whitaker played a direct role in some of these actions, apparently threatening a disgruntled customer
He warned in an email that filing complaints against the company could result in “serious civil and criminal consequences,” according to the members. He also wrote, “I am a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and I also serve on World Patent Marketing’s Advisory Board.”
Contributing: Nicole Gaudiano
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/14/democrats-probe-whitakers-role-company-allegedly-bilked-customers-millions/2000748002/
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.