In November 2014, a Miami Beach-based firm, World Patent Marketing, announced the “marketing launch” of a “MASCULINE TOILET,” which boasted a specially designed bowl to help “well-endowed men” avoid unwanted contact with porcelain or water. “The average male genitalia is between 5″ and 6″,” the firm’s press release said. “However, this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that.” In the same release, World Patent Marketing also touted the recent appointment of “Matthew G. Whitaker, former Iowa US Attorney and Republican candidate for United States Senate to the company’s advisory board.”
Last week, President Donald Trump named Whitaker acting attorney general, with oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, after ousting Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for whom Whitaker had worked as chief of staff. Since his appointment, Whitaker’s background has come under intense scrutiny. Reporters combing through his past radio and TV punditry discovered that he had made many statements that called into question his ability to oversee the Mueller probe impartially. Whitaker’s association with World Patent Marketing, which charged would-be inventors large fees to supposedly help them promote their products, also stood out on his resume.
The special toilet was not the firm’s only notable offering. It marketed a slew of oddball inventions, including a “theoretical time travel commodity tied directly to price of Bitcoin.” Called Time Travel X and marketed as “a technology, an investment vehicle and a community of users,” the cryptocurrency never materialized. The firm also pitched Sasquatch dolls, promoting them with a video claiming that “DNA evidence collected in 2013 proves that Bigfoot does exist.”
Federal authorities say World Patent Marketing was scam. A federal judge shut down the company last year and fined it $26 million after the Federal Trade Commission found it had “bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars” in fees it charged clients based on phony promises of lucrative patent deals. The company is under investigation by the FBI, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The company’s advisory board, which included a former presidential candidate in the Central Africa Republic and an Israeli-born mixed martial artist, gave it a patina of legitimacy. And between 2014 and 2016, as World Patent Marketing was hawking an array of dubious products and allegedly fleecing aspiring inventors, the company paid Whitaker at least $9,375. Whitaker was no passive board member. He defended the firm against critics, solicited new business, appeared in at least one promotional video for the company, and he seems to have acted at times as outside counsel for the firm. Unlike other advisory board members, he has not returned the payments he received from World Patent Marketing.