Whitaker served on advisory board, promoted Florida company despite fraud claims

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker served on the advisory board of a Florida company and promoted the business despite concerns from customers that the company was defrauding customers of their life savings.

The Washington Post reported that Whitaker served on the board of advisers for Miami-based patent firm World Patent Marketing for three years despite hearing early on from customers jilted by the company's business practices.

ADVERTISEMENT

That company was ordered to close down by a judge earlier this year, who also ordered the firm to pay a fine of $25 million after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused it of fraudulently promising to help people patent and profit from their inventions.

Whitaker, himself a former U.S. attorney, was used by name on official messages from the company's executives to some customers complaining about the firm's business model as a means of lending credibility to the statements, the Post found.

And despite his history with the justice system, Whitaker missed a 2017 deadline to comply with a subpoena related to the investigation, citing his newfound job as then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump poised to roll back transgender health protections Trump claims Mueller didn't speak to those 'closest' to him And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE's chief of staff.

“I didn’t know that you had served a subpoena,” he wrote in October of 2017, according to the Post. “I am now at the Department of Justice here in Washington DC, as the chief of staff to the Attorney General, so I want to be very helpful.”

According to internal records accessed by the Post, Whitaker began fielding angry complaints from customers to his superiors at the company in early 2015, yet did little or nothing to respond to them other than passing the feedback along.

Communications requested under the subpoena were never submitted to the DOJ, according to the Post, as Whitaker told investigators that he had a minimal role with the company and never discussed the issues.

In a statement to the Post, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsWhite House moves to block official from congressional testimony despite subpoena The Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle MORE (D-Md.), said that news of Whitaker's role raised questions about his fitness to lead the DOJ.

“These new documents suggest that Mr. Whitaker was personally aware of allegations of fraud by World Patent Marketing and its CEO at the same time he was receiving payments as a member of the Advisory Board,” Cummings told the newspaper.

“If true, this is extremely troubling and raises serious concerns about his fitness to serve as acting Attorney General and whether he was properly vetted for this critical position.”