Dark Money Group Paid Former Trump AG Matthew Whitaker For Pardon — And Never Signed Up As A Lobbyist

During Donald Trump’s final months in office, lobbyists flooded the White House in hopes of getting a pardon for their client. It is a cash bonanza because Beltway insiders wanted to bend the damaged president’s ears, as federal law requirements were later revealed.

But one person stands out from that crowd, both because of his former role in the Trump administration and the fact that he was never registered as a lobbyist – even though he is being promoted. paid $400,000 by a conservative money group that took advantage of him to lead it’s efforts to secure amnesty and swaps.

Matthew Whitaker held senior roles in Trump’s Justice Department from September 2017 to February 2019, ending his DOJ tenure with three months as acting attorney general. And when he finally left the administration, he found a pretty decent gig: hosting a new project for the right-wing nonprofit FreedomWorks.

The team brought in Whitaker in March 2020 to head its new “American Freedom Initiative,” which FreedomWorks declare “For the purpose of recommending deserving individuals to the Trump administration for pardons and relief.” A previously unreported union submit from FreedomWorks, which did not have to disclose its sponsors, showed that the organization paid Whitaker $400,000 last year in unspecified “consulting” fees.

That role raises some ethical questions for Whitaker. He was directly related in clemency negotiations in the White House that could be as late as Trump’s last day in office, but never registered as a lobbyist while campaigning for pardons — and FreedomWorks has not never raised the issue of leniency in any of its 2020 lobbying reports.

However, Whitaker was listed as a supporter in two official announcements — December clemency for convicted healthcare scammer Daniela Gozes-Wagnerand the last-minute conditional pardon was extended to Stephen Odzer, who in 2006 pleaded guilty to bank fraud of more than $16 million.

Kedric Payne, senior director of ethics who specializes in law lobbying at the non-partisan watchdog’s Campaign Legal Center, said the available evidence suggests that “lobbying activity is active.” widely paid” was not reported.

“Federal law requires disclosure of information from people who are paid to campaign for pardons,” explains Payne. “This issue raises red flags because there appears to be a lot of lobbying that is paid for, but no evidence of lobbying registration. The public has the right to fully disclose who is lobbying to our officials.”

Paul S. Ryan, vice president of litigation at government watchdog Common Cause, pointed out that the laws around lobbying for specific pardons were fuzzy and predated Trump’s final months. relatively untested. But he also noted that some of Trump’s lobbyists saw fit to disclose that work.

“Other lobbyists associated with Trump have reported huge earnings lobbying the administration for pardons. Any failure by Whitaker to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars received to lobby the Trump administration is subject to close scrutiny,” Ryan told The Daily Beast.

Neither Whitaker nor FreedomWorks responded to requests for comment.

The deal also raises questions about Whitaker’s still nascent relationships with Justice Department officials and Trump himself, who surpassed Deputy Secretary Rod Rosenstein when he gave Whitaker the top job in November. 2019.

The date caused a lot of controversy about constitutionality and Whitaker’s Own Degree, as well as affect Trump is trying to carry out the special investigation of Robert Mueller. Whitaker led the department through the final stages of the Mueller investigation, but his primary evidence for that work appears to be that he served for two years as chief of staff to the attorney general. Trump’s first, Jeff Sessions.

That tenure actually meant that Whitaker’s time at the DOJ almost completely overlapped with conviction and sentencing in one of his successful clemency bids.

In September 2017, a jury found Daniela Gozes-Wagner guilty of fraud and money laundering for her role in a Russian company’s Medicare and Medicaid multimillion-dollar fraud scheme. Whitaker was appointed chief of staff to Sessions last week.

Gozes-Wagner was later sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $15.2 million. This is the harshest punishment in the case, although there are a number of complicating circumstances that make a corporate prosecution, including a guilty plea, government cooperation and a suicide attempt unlikely. out. Whitaker left the DOJ two days before sentencing.

However, it remains unclear whether FreedomWorks will see a return on investment in Whitaker.

By group website, AFI has advocated clemency on behalf of more than 30 people. Many are women and people of color, and the website lists a number of drug-related convictions. But the site identified only three successful applications, and the list did not include Gozes-Wagner or Odzer.

Those three clerics were also granted before FreedomWorks launched in partnership with Whitaker. The White House file showed Whitaker in his personal capacity to support all three, but the ordinances were issued in February 2020, about three weeks before Whitaker officially joined FreedomWorks.

In a March 11 interview announcing the new initiative, FreedomWorks communications director Peter Vicenzi specifically asked about those three cases, asking Whitaker, “We sent their names, right?”

Whitaker didn’t respond directly, replying, “So AFI – we’re working with a lot of other groups in this space.” The White House announcement cited multiple organizations supporting the same three candidates, but FreedomWorks and AFI were not among them.

In the announcement video, Whitaker, who a decade before taking office in the Trump administration, served as an assistant US attorney, was accused of hypocrisy. His efforts, he said, are “in no way a broad indictment” of law enforcement officers, who “work so hard on these cases and put Their lives are in jeopardy.”

Some of his former colleagues seem to disagree. Federal prosecutor Is called Trump’s generous application of executive leniency — especially to health-care fraudsters like Gozes-Wagner — “disappoints morale, dismays” and “a slap in the face.” incredible in the teeth”.

Yet another possible leniency came, and it came close to home for Whitaker.

Weeks before Whitaker joined AFI, a federal judge sentenced Trump loyalist Roger Stone to 40 months in prison for tampering with witnesses and giving false statements.

Whitaker repeatedly replaced Stone, who was indicted as acting attorney general in January 2019.

Shortly after Stone was arrested, Whitaker – as acting attorney general – said in sworn congressional testimony that he was briefed on the decision and echoed a conspiracy theory about the arrest.

Five days before Trump announced his pardon in February 2020, Whitaker took to Fox News as a private citizen to defense Then there was the controversial move of Attorney General Bill Barr to reduce the sentence proposed by the DOJ for Stone, which he said was “too severe”.

In a February 13, 2020, interview, Whitaker said that the president “absolutely” did nothing wrong when he suggested that Barr should intervene. He also claimed CNN “concealed” Stone’s arrest and complained about the jury’s “bias,” citing earlier anti-Trump tweets.

The day after the February amnesty, Trump tweeted a clip of Tucker Carlson discussing Stone’s conviction, in which the Fox News character floats the idea that the president “could end this act of treason immediately with a pardon, and there are signs that he will do it tonight.”

Trump finally commuted Stone’s sentence in July. Whitaker then again went to Fox News, repel of widespread criticism of cronyism.

In that interview, Whitaker – who was at the time being paid to secure a vindication from his former boss – said that Trump “has been looking at cases where he feels it’s a matter of fairness, basically, wasn’t done and he’s trying to fix those things. wrong things. The former top prosecutor added that he “will expect as this president continues to serve in this role, he will grant pardons, pardons and other executive leniency as he sees fit. “

At least two of those regrets will go to the candidates Whitaker supports: Gozes-Wagner and Stephen Odzen. However, Odzen’s narrow pardon did not include his exposure in two ongoing lawsuits, an unresolved contract dispute related to PPE for COVID-19, and one $500 million fraud lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against a previous lender. That case prompted the lender to sue Odzen and several of his companies, which owe a total of $91 million.

By comparison, those numbers are higher than the $26 million that Whitaker’s former employer, World Patent Marketing, paid to settle a federal fraud lawsuit in 2018. Federal Trade Commission close the door businesses that defraud customers in hopes of securing patents for their inventions, many patents — such as “Male toilets”—It seems outrageous and has little chance of success.

Whitaker acts as an assault dog attorney for the company, and has beg as a former assistant United States attorney to give credit to the act. The FTC subpoenaed Whitaker’s records in October 2017, weeks after his DOJ appointment under Sessions, but he reported No answer. A court official handling the case said he had “no reason to believe” Whitaker knew about the scam.

FBI and Post Office then reported have opened investigations into the company, and they have not been reported closed.

Government file released this September reveals several Freedom of Information Act requests to the FTC for documents related to Whitaker, some of which relate to his role in Patent Marketing World. The status of those requests was not disclosed. Dark Money Group Paid Former Trump AG Matthew Whitaker For Pardon — And Never Signed Up As A Lobbyist


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