Trump’s New AG Pick Took Major Government Loan Then Stiffed Employees

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The days when many would take President Donald Trump’s claim seriously that he only hires the best people are long past. Last week, he tapped Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker to serve as acting attorney general after he pushed Sessions out of the position, and in the time since, the mess that Whitaker and his past are steeped in has become more clear.

The Associated Press shared a report this week outlining how Whitaker took on a project to renovate an apartment building in Des Moines, Iowa, with a government loan delivered on the condition that the complex provide affordable housing. Whitaker, though, eventually walked away from the project.

He left the city government hanging, simply ignoring a 2016 notice from Des Moines to return the bulk of the loan money, which had come from the federal government but the city would ultimately be responsible for. City authorities showed up at the building and found that it had, simply, been seemingly abandoned, with no signs of development progress at one point towards the end of Whitaker’s involvement — and, in fact, added damage.

He didn’t just run with cash from the city. He also left contractors out in the cold, including an electrician who sued for $14,000 in unpaid wages. During that court process, attempts to reach Whitaker proved fruitless, as addresses available for him and his investment firm constituted nothing but “dark, locked offices” in the AP’s description. That suit eventually fizzled out.

On top of those issues,¬†Lincoln Savings Bank — with whom Whitaker had taken out a mortgage loan on the property — also faced a cold shoulder from Whitaker, who ignored a mortgage bill that ended up approaching three-quarters of a million dollars — the exact amount the AP shares was $687,000. The bank initiated foreclosure proceedings on the property, seeking to recoup their losses.

The month after those proceedings began, Whitaker and his company — MEM Investments, which at this point he was the sole owner of — sold the building off to contractor¬†Jeff Young, although he didn’t seemingly get much if any profit. The money went towards the Lincoln Savings Bank loan and contractor liens on the property.

The abandonment of a government funded housing project isn’t alone among questionable business failures in Whitaker’s past. He also, for instance, worked with a Florida “inventions promotion” company that has long since been shut down over its scamming operations that bilked consumers out of millions of dollars for nothing in return. Whitaker at one point threatened “serious civil and criminal consequences” when someone complained to the company.

His appointment to the acting attorney general post itself has come under intense scrutiny, with detractors pointing out a two pronged issue.

On the one hand, Whitaker has never sat for confirmation hearings before the Senate, despite legal demands for such. Additionally, he’s attacked the Russia investigation multiple times in the past, leading observers to believe his appointment was one of the latest politically motivated efforts to undercut the nation’s justice system from the Trump administration.

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