Whitaker: Who paid him $1.2 million?
“We don’t know who was paying Matthew Whitaker, and that’s a problem,” said Ray Madoff in The Washington Post. Before he was appointed by President Trump as our country’s new acting attorney general, Whitaker was paid $1.2 million as the head of a “mysterious charity” with just one employee: him. This tax-exempt, so-called charity, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, told the IRS in 2014 its mission was to develop “unbiased research” into environmental regulations’ impact on businesses. But Whitaker spent most of his time on highly partisan TV and radio appearances, attacking Hillary Clinton and other Democrats and, later, special counsel Robert Mueller. FACT’s funding, meanwhile, came from anonymous conservative benefactors through “dark money” contributions. This is “particularly concerning,” since the IRS forbids charities like Whitaker’s from primarily focusing on political work.
They have a name for the sort of work Whitaker did at FACT, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com—“wingnut welfare.” Basically, wealthy Republican donors pay folks like Whitaker to go on TV and “amplify conservative messaging, on questions like whether Hillary Clinton was one of history’s greatest criminals.” The point of FACT was to provide the obscure Whitaker—a former U.S. attorney in Iowa who came in fourth in a Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2014—a legitimate-sounding title to splash on the cable TV chyron to fool viewers. In the end, though, this political kabuki produced real results: While Whitaker was on TV attacking Mueller’s investigation, he was auditioning for the role of attorney general, because Trump was out there watching.
Whitaker, however, is “clearly not fit to serve,” said former federal prosecutor Michael Stern in TheHill.com. As U.S. attorney in Iowa, Whitaker—who has said “God’s hand” guides his work—conducted a political prosecution of a gay Democratic lawmaker over a $2,000 business dispute that a jury rejected after 90 minutes of deliberation. Whitaker also held a paid position on the advisory board of a Florida company under FBI investigation for bilking consumers of millions of dollars. He’s repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation and reportedly counseled Trump on how to build a criminal case against Hillary Clinton. “Every sign along Whitaker’s road to attorney general is neon red and flashing ‘Conflict of Interest.’” ■