New AG Whitaker Business Dealings Under Scrutiny

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks to state and local law enforcement officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks to state and local law enforcement officials at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

After being appointed last week by President Donald Trump to the nation’s top law enforcement job, Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s history as a former federal prosecutor, Republican Party loyalist and critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has come under scrutiny, as have some of his business dealings.

The city of Des Moines ultimately yanked an affordable housing loan that Whitaker’s company had been awarded, and another lender began foreclosure proceedings after Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000. Several contractors complained they were not paid, and a process server for one contractor could not even find Whitaker or his company to serve him with a lawsuit. Whitaker is expected to return to his home state Wednesday to speak at a conference at a downtown Des Moines hotel, about two miles from the Ingersoll Avenue apartment building that he once saw as an investment opportunity.

After years of rising costs, Whitaker stopped work on the project by early 2016 and sold the building months later. City officials raced to see the project completed to avoid losing federal money, and contractors filed liens seeking compensation for more than $32,000 in unpaid work. A lawyer who represented Whitaker’s company did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said she was looking into the matter. A company formed by Whitaker and two partners, MEM Investments, was awarded a $166,000 city loan to renovate the vacant three-story complex in 2012, through a Department of Housing and Urban Development grant program to promote affordable housing. A reorganization in 2014 made Whitaker the company’s sole owner.