Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
One of the many problems with President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint former U.S. attorney and Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, aside from his extremism, his partisanship, and the fact that he may not be legally eligible for the role, is the ethical questions surrounding his involvement in World Patent Marketing, a Miami-based company that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission as a scam.
World Patent Marketing, on whose board Whitaker sat, would recruit people who had inventions, tell them that they would be a big hit and were in review by the board, and bilked them out of their money while doing little to nothing, oftentimes even knowingly accepting “inventions” that already existed. Furthermore, when customers complained it was a scam, in at least one case, Whitaker himself warned that he was a former federal prosecutor and that “smearing” the company online would result in “serious civil and criminal consequences.”
But it apparently went even further than that, according to a new report in the Washington Post. Apparently, when the watchdog website Ripoff Report posted complaints from customers that World Patent Marketing was a scam, Whitaker personally called the founder and blew up at him:
Ed Magedson, the founder of the Arizona-based Ripoff Report, said he received a phone call from Whitaker in early 2015 after the website posted complaints about World Patent Marketing.
“He threatened me, using foul language,” said Magedson, whose website sells companies a program to improve their reputation among consumers. “He threatened to sue and to ruin my business if I did not remove the ‘false reports.'”
At one point, Whitaker said he would refer Ripoff Report to the Department of Homeland Security, Magedson said.
Whitaker reportedly made $10,000 sitting on the board of World Patent Marketing, and its CEO contributed $2,600 for Whitaker’s failed Senate campaign in Iowa.
The decision to sit on the board of such a company in the first place is a serious lapse of ethical judgment. But for Whitaker to threaten a man reporting on complaints about the company, under color of having connections to federal law enforcement, is downright appalling.
Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.