When federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa.
Whitaker seems to have been more than a figurehead. He spoke about inventions of the company’s clients in online videos — including a special hot-tub seat for people with mobility issues. He also penned a response to at least one complaint — writing a threatening email in which he cited his role as a former U.S. attorney, according to court filings.
“It’s really upsetting to know that guy will be attorney general,” said Ryan Masti, 26, who lost $77,000 after paying World Patent Marketing to help him bring to market his idea for a social media app to help the disabled. “It’s so offensive. It’s like a stab in the back.”
In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.
At the time, he was also running a conservative watchdog group with ties to other powerful nonprofits on the right and was beginning to develop a career as a Trump-friendly cable television commentator.
World Patent Marketing — founded by Miami businessman Scott J. Cooper, who had donated $2,600 to Whitaker’s Senate campaign — prominently highlighted Whitaker’s résumé as a former U.S. attorney, which helped lend the company credibility.
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