November 27, 2018

Senators Demand Answers on Acting AG Whitaker’s Role at Firm FTC Charged with Scamming Consumers

Request information about Whitaker’s reported failure to respond to an FTC subpoena, citing his senior position at DOJ

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are seeking answers from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s role as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing, a company accused of perpetrating a serious consumer scam and which shut down shortly after the FTC took enforcement action against it. The senators asked for information on reports that the FTC issued a subpoena to Whitaker, but he failed to respond, citing his plans to take on a senior position at the Department of Justice.

“Specifically, Mr. Matthew Whitaker reportedly threatened a World Patent Marketing customer who had raised consumer protection concerns about the company by invoking his previous position as ‘United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa’ and threatened significant legal actions against this individual for making these consumer protection complaints public,” the senators wrote. “According to the Washington Post, the FTC issued a subpoena to Mr. Whitaker seeking information in his possession about this company and that he failed to respond by reportedly claiming he was busy moving to Washington, D.C. to take a senior position at the Department of Justice.”

Today, in a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, Udall questioned FTC Chairman Joseph Simons about the FTC’s actions related to Whitaker’s involvement with World Patent Marketing.

As the senators noted in today’s letter, several House committees requested that the FTC provide information regarding Mr. Whitaker’s role in the World Patent Marketing scheme and provide briefings on the FTC’s investigation and settlement with the company by today, November 27, 2018. “We strongly support these requests for information to the FTC and respectfully request that you also provide the Senate Commerce Committee with a production of any material provided to the House,” the senators wrote in their letter today.

In addition, the senators sought answers from the FTC to a series of their own questions by December 13, 2018, including: 

  • What information did the FTC uncover about Mr. Whitaker’s involvement with World Patent Marketing?
  • Did the FTC subpoena Mr. Whitaker? If so, provide the date it was issued, a description of what information was sought, and whether Mr. Whitaker responded to the subpoena. If Mr. Whitaker did respond to the subpoena, provide a description of the response. If Mr. Whitaker did not respond to the subpoena, provide any steps the FTC took to enforce the subpoena.
  • At what point did the FTC become aware that Mr. Whitaker was likely to become the Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions?
  • Did the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the White House contact the FTC about the World Patent Marketing case or Mr. Whitaker’s involvement in it? If so, what discussions, if any, about this case occurred? Provide the date of contact, discussion dates and names of those involved.   

The full text of today’s letter is available HERE