Top Dems Launch Investigation of Acting Attorney General’s Involvement in Company Charged with Bilking Consumers of Millions of Dollars
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 14, 2018)—Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Jerrold Nadler, Frank Pallone, Jr., and Adam Schiff, the Ranking Members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, the Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, respectively, sent seven letters requesting information relating to Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker’s involvement with World Patent Marketing, a company that allegedly bilked millions from consumers and suppressed criticism of their activities.
“On November 7, 2018, President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and put in his place Matthew G. Whitaker to serve as Acting Attorney General,” the Members wrote. “Because Mr. Whitaker was not confirmed by the Senate, both Republican and Democratic constitutional law experts warned that his appointment was, and continues to be, unconstitutional. In addition, because the Senate was not given an opportunity to properly vet Mr. Whitaker’s background, serious questions are now arising about his fitness to serve in this position of trust.”
On March 14, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced charges 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.”
At the time, Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen stated: “The defendants promised to promote people’s inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return. Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained.”
More than a year later, on May 10, 2018, the FTC announced that World Patent Marketing agreed to a settlement banning the company from the industry and imposing a judgment of nearly $26 million.
The Members explained that court records include documents showing that Mr. Whitaker played a direct role in some of these actions.
In one email, Mr. Whitaker apparently threatened a disgruntled customer, warning that filing complaints against the company could result in “serious civil and criminal consequences.” He stated: “I am a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and I also serve on World Patent Marketing’s Advisory Board.”
The Members sent letters requesting briefings and documents to Mr. Whitaker; Scott Cooper, the former Founder and CEO of World Patent Marketing; the FTC; the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Better Business Bureaus serving Metro New York and Southeast Florida and the Caribbean.