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News Blog

Jeremy Johnson and Tim Lawson

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2011-02-08 -

An e-mail from Tim Lawson, lobbyist and friend to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, suggests that the company IWorks--whose CEO, Jeremy Johnson, was recently named in a civil complaint by the FTC--may have donated as much as $100,000 to Shurtleff in 2008.

(Note: This post has been updated to reflect the nature of the complaint filed against Johnson by the FTC)

According to an e-mail City Weekly obtained through an open-records request, Tim Lawson, who is the subject of this week's cover story, purports to have brokered as much as $100,000 in campaign donations from IWorks representatives to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Shurtleff’s financial disclosure reports from 2008 list only receiving $50,000 from IWorks. (The Utah Attorney General’s Office has not returned a response to an e-mail query sent last Friday, but this blog will be updated if they do.)

It’s difficult to determine which donors represent whom, but the context of an e-mail (see below) that Lawson sent to Shurtleff’s secretary suggests most, if not all of the $100,000 came from IWorks. In the Jan. 10, 2008 e-mail, Lawson indicates that Jeremy Johnson—the founder of IWorks who has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission with defrauding U.S. consumers out of $275 million—would not be at a January meeting with Shurtleff, but that he was sending a representative of the company to the meet.

“Ryan Poleman will be taking his place and he has a check for 25,” Lawson writes, adding that “with the 40 to 50k from Jeremy, 25k for Ryan and 25k from Name (???) That makes 100 total in additional funds, now lets see what we can really do after a goodnight (sic) sleep.”

Asked to comment about these donations, Lawson replied by e-mail: “NO COMMENT!!!”

Johnson (pictured above) was charged on Dec. 22, 2010 for using 61 business entities to have allegedly orchestrated a “massive internet scam” according to the FTC’s lawsuit. Consumers signed up for trial memberships in programs to acquire government grants or other money-making ventures. The consumers’ credit cards were then billed for services they allegedly never received. On Jan. 27, a federal court froze IWorks’ assets.

Johnson did not respond to a call for comment today, but this blog will be updated if he chooses to comment.

For City Weekly’s previous coverage of Johnson check out the “The $50,000 Question,” June 18, 2008, "Called into Question," April 8, 2009 andEthical Questions,” March 10, 2010. See below for the full Jan. 10, 2008 e-mail between Lawson and Shurtleff's secretary.


Lawson/Johnson email
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // February 16,2011 at 11:22

Umm....the FTC can't "indict" anyone. They have sued him civilly....but there is a gigantic difference between those two things. One means going to jail, the other means just a meaningless court order to pay millions of dollars that he no longer has.

The reality is that, while perhaps somewhat deceptive, creating a venture that requires consumers to read the contracts they enter into does not rise to the level of an indictment.

 

Posted // February 23,2011 at 16:08 - @Anonymous :: Ha! The context only makes the number seem bigger. A chargeback isn't like a refund ... it's equivalent to a customer accusing a merchant of fraud. Not only did they not want the product ... but they were unable to attain a refund. One of the major expenses at iWorks were two call centers that deflected refund requests. 500,000 is an obscene number which should have been impossible.

 

Posted // February 23,2011 at 09:27 - 500,000 sounds big until you consider that iWorks had well over 5,000,000 customers and charged more than 21,000,000 transactions.

 

Posted // February 22,2011 at 02:04 - @John :: Umm.....Johnson had 500,000 chargebacks. If an indictable offense were a ripple on the Great Salt Lake from yo' mamas sailboat ... then 500,000 chargebacks is a fucking Indian Ocean Tsunami. He has not been indicted yet ... but he's absolutely indictable. It will be a travesty if criminal charges aren't forthcoming. Maybe the Utah AG will take it to a grand jury and try to get an indictment ... oh yeah ... no.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // February 9,2011 at 09:12 Mark Shurtleff, as much as I've tried to like the guy, has become Inspector Clousseau. Especially when it comes to campaign donations and prosecutorial initiatives. As a form of emergency support for our beleagured AG, I will volunteer to vet his donors because whoever is doing it now has the instincts of my mother and she's been gone for 5 yearsm now, like this person should have been.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // February 9,2011 at 07:53

am i missing something here? who is ryan poleman? how is he related to jeremy johnson, or i works?

 

Posted // February 9,2011 at 17:01 - I had hoped the context of the email showed that Poleman was a representative sent to the meetup with Shurtleff on Johnson's behalf. I should have spelled that out more. Thanks for reading. ESP

 

 
 
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