Matthew Whitaker was named acting attorney general of the United States on Wednesday.
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But well before that, starting in 2014, Whitaker served as a paid adviser to World Patent Marketing, a Miami-based company that was ordered to pay an approximately US$26-million settlement earlier this year, the Guardian reported.
World Patent Marketing was last year sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that it had scammed inventors by offering to promote their works in exchange for thousands of dollars, reported the Wall Street Journal.
These services, however, were never rendered, according to the FTC.
The Miami New Times published a detailed feature about World Patent Marketing last year.
It described a company that would make contact with inventors, offering to help develop their products and monetize them.
However, its board, on which Whitaker sat alongside a time-travel scientist and world karate champion, didn’t meet or review any inventors’ pitches.
As the New Times told it, people ended up on the board through a “quid pro quo” arrangement that would see them paid as much as $12,500 every year.
Whitaker, who was paid almost $10,000 through regular payments of $1,875, received a donation of $2,600 from World Patent Marketing CEO Scott Cooper when he ran for the Senate in 2014.
He also appeared in marketing materials for the company, appearing in a video that showed him evaluating an invention, and saying in a news release, “World Patent Marketing goes beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate those words into action.”
While serving in this role, Whitaker sent an ex-client a threatening email after this person complained that he had not received the services that World Patent Marketing said it would provide.
In the email, which appeared in court records, Whitaker said that there could be “serious civil and criminal consequences” if the former client made a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or “smear” the firm online.
Whitaker wasn’t named in the FTC’s lawsuit against World Patent Marketing, in which it was ordered to pay $25,987,192.
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Cooper, the company’s CEO, later came to an arrangement in which he would pay $1 million in assets, as well as any money he made from the sale of his $3.5-million home.
Global News has reached out to the U.S. Justice Department for comment. The Guardian could not reach Whitaker for a response.
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