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4/29 The Martha Stewart Scandal: A Tempest in a Cuisinart...

Late Night Letters
Our readers tell Jay, Conan and Letterman to stuff it!

Reader Mail: Alice Bentley says Save Martha!
"Proportionality is the hallmark of wisdom.  Martha is being scapegoated because she is a woman, she is rich, she is a Democrat and she isn't Ken Lay.  I am always  sick at heart when people attack someone who hasn't done much of anything just to further their own agenda."

SaveMartha's java of the day: Irving Farm Coffee Company, best coffee in NY

SaveMartha in the News:

Neil Cavuto says SaveMartha!

Richard Johnson's PageSix
Loosen up
THE former corporate brand manager who runs the SaveMartha.com Web site says the down-at-the-heels domestic diva should go on "Saturday Night Live" and make fun of herself to resuscitate her image. "Maybe she comes across as too WASPy or remote," John Small tells the Washington Post. "She needs to communicate that she's a real person." Small says that so far he's sold $100,000 worth of "Save Martha" barbecue aprons and chef's toques on his site.

What I really said was that Martha needs to do more PR and community outreach so that people can connect to her on a more personal level.

Martha, In the Soup
Taking Stock of the Phenomenon Who's Stirred Up Women, by Paula Span --The Washington Post
"Fans on SaveMartha.com are sure she's the victim of media and prosecutorial conspiracies. "I wouldn't doubt if Wal-Mart was in on this," one bitter defender wrote.

The guy who runs that site, a 40-year-old Manhattan business consultant named John Small, is sometimes puzzled by the venom. Why don't the people who dislike Stewart so just ignore her?

Will Media Wimps Accept Edd's Boxing Challenge?

Update: so far both the NY Posts Chris Byron and Fox News Eric Burns have refused to accept our celebrity boxing challenge to duke it out with Edd Townsend. We even offered to let them select whatever color trunks they would like to wear. In order to stay color-cooridnated in this time of increased homeland security, we have chosen a color for them: Yellow.

Start your day off right with French toast
By Martha Stewart
You may be surprised to learn that French toast, that delicious breakfast treat, was invented as a way to make use of slightly stale, day-old bread. The French name for the dish, pain perdu, literally means "lost bread."

In fact, leftover bread is a better choice than fresh for this preparation -- it holds together better when soaking in the batter and frying in the pan.
(More)

See Rosie O'Donnell's new movie, No War

Rosie O'Donnell is the only celebrity to publicly support Martha Stewart in her time of need (Hilliary Clinton did so privately). Now she's being sued for $300 million and attacked by the tabloids. Give Rosie a hug...

Save Martha In The News:

CNBCs Power Lunch says Save Martha!

On Martha Stewart Living
Need an escape from winter? Watch the Emmy Award-winning television series Martha Stewart Living for a "Change of Place" over the next two weeks (February 17-28). Tune in with your kids for a show designed to inspire you with ideas for spending time together on President's Day. Travel with Martha Stewart Living Television to a destination wedding in Puerto Rico where you'll meet one lucky couple who find marital bliss in the tropics at a fabulous Martha Stewart Living destination wedding. Explore a world of distinctive destinations for food and culture as Martha Stewart Living discovers very good things about Toronto, Japan, Vermont, France and New Orleans.

Insider Trading 101

What is insider trading, and did Martha break the rules?

The phrase "insider trading" developed primarily through judicial analysis of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the SEC's Rule 10b-5. In the Supreme Court's landmark 1997 decision, United States v. O'Hagan, the court stated that unlawful insider trading occurs when securities are bought or sold "on the basis of" material nonpublic information.

Definition: An inside trader is someone who works within the company or is a third party who has a special relationship with the company, (such as the company's lawyer or other fiduciary) and has traded securities of the company on the basis of material, nonpublic information.

DID MARTHA QUALIFY AS AN INSIDE TRADER?

The three things that must be proved in order to label insider trading activity illegal are:
1) trading occurred (YES);
2) the trade occurred while the person was in possession of material, nonpublic information, (MAYBE) and;
3) the person who did the trading had access to the information as a result of a relationship of trust or fiduciary duty that was subsequently violated by the trading. In other words, the information was misappropriated. (NO!)

MARTHA HAD NO FIDUCIARY DUTY TO IMCLONE OR ITS SHAREHOLDERS; SAM WAKSAL DID. ANY INFORMATION MARTHA HAD WAS GIVEN TO HER AS AN OUTSIDER, NOT MISAPPROPRIATED AS AN INSIDER. MARTHA DOES NOT FIT THE CLASSIC DEFINITION OF AN INSIDE TRADER.

Martha Had Safe Harbor Exemption

The rule states three safe harbor exceptions by which insiders may rebut the presumption that they traded on the basis of the inside information. These three exceptions involve situations in which a trader (i) enters into a binding contract to buy or sell a fixed amount of securities and then learns of material nonpublic information; (ii) provides instructions to his or her broker to execute a specified trade and then learns of material nonpublic information; or (iii) follows a written plan for buying or selling company securities.

SO, Even if Martha had material nonpublic information, since Martha had a plan to sell, including a previous attempt to sell all of her shares, AND a $60 stop-loss order, she is not considered an inside trader under SEC rules, and qualifies under the safe harbor exemption.

SARBANES-OXLEY has recently broadened these definitions somewhat, but the rules would have to be radically changed retroactively to even consider Martha's trade under these rules.

Save Martha's
To Do List

1. Tell shareholders you share their pain
2. Settle case with SEC asap
3. Cook lunch for Rupert Murdoch
4. Conduct focus groups with Martha-bashers
5. Get a deal in place with Walmart or Target asap
6. Take your company private
7. Go on Saturday Night Live and parody yourself
8. Cancel subscription to the New Yorker
9. Start doing more charity work
10. Call Rosie's hairstylist and get a cool new 'do

Day 474: Martha Held Hostage

ANGEL OF MERCY--PAGE SIX

"MARTHA Stewart isn't the dragon lady she's made out to be. Last month, when an unidentified staffer at Martha Stewart Living was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the domestic diva "put all of her resources at his disposal," said Living freelance photographer Victor Schrager. "She had her driver take him around to all the different hospitals and made sure he had best doctors." Stewart then set him up in her Connecticut home to recuperate from surgery. "Martha is really a generous and compassionate woman," Schrager said. Stewart's rep said, "Martha cares about everyone who works with her. Her company is like a family."

Food for Thought: Chrysler spokeswoman Celine Dion's husband in sex scandal

SaveMartha fans recall that Chrysler recently signed Celine Dion to a new endorsement contract, and then very publicly announced their choice not to renew Martha's deal, in an effort to find a "family-friendly" spokesperson to represent their brand. At the time, a number of Martha's fans were quite upset, but maybe now it was all for the best. Celine and her husband Rene are embroiled in a scandal which, if it were Martha, would merit an entire special collector's issue of the NY Post.

Celines 2 million personal reasons

Who could have predicted that Celine would be so quickly involved in her own scandal, while Martha's has all but disappeared? Obviously, the marketing mavens at Chysler could not. TheSmokingGun.com has released these not-so-family-friendly court documents revealing a $2 million payment of "hush money" from Celine and her husband Rene to a woman who claimed that Rene once fondled her in the elevator of a Las Vegas hotel. Claiming the assault charges are false, Celine and Renes lawyer now say they only agreed to pay the $2 million hush money for what they described as "personal reasons." Nobody wants a scandal on their hands, but two million personal reasons? According to attorneys, one of those "reasons" is allegedly evidence of Renes DNA on the victims clothing. You might call that family-friendly evidence.

There is no doubt that if Martha were still a Chrysler spokesperson, some crazed conspiracy theorist would try to link her to the scene of the alleged crime. Martha just gave her friend Marianna Pasternak a lot less than $2 million to help pay some of her legal bills, and the press has a feast with that one. Meanwhile, Martha, always the survivor, has a new sponsorship from GM in her Everyday Food magazine. Hungry members of the media should check out the Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs. And remember, if you're in the market for a spokesperson, it's only business, not personal.

Lawyer: evidence ties Celines husband to assault--AP
Celine Dion's husband paid a California woman $2 million in "hush money" about three years ago to keep accusations of sexual abuse from becoming public and possibly damaging the singer's career. Now the woman's attorney says he will provide evidence that he believes links (Celine's husband) Rene Angelil to a sexual assault against his client, Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung. Recently released court records indicate that Angelil agreed to pay Sung the money after she claimed he fondled her in March 2000 in a hotel-casino elevator.

Day 450: Sauté It or get off the pot

Justice Delayed: Martha Stewart vs. HealthSouth

It's day 448 of the Martha Stewart investigation, which is taking longer to finish than one of Martha's deep-fried turkeys. Compare that to the case of HealthSouth. The Justice department and SEC have acted with lightning speed, bringing insider trading and accounting fraud charges within just weeks of the $2.4 billion fraud being exposed. We applaud the governments handling of the HealthSouth case, which will be a model of how to pursue investor fraud under the new Sarbanes-Oxley provisions. Why it took so long to uncover a scam which had been going on for 10 years is for others to ponder. For now it's kudos to all those who have put real-time justice to work. Shareholders are best served when these cases are rapidly resolved. Now HealthSouth can get on with reorganizing their business, if in fact there is a business worth reorganizing.

Contrast this model case with Martha Stewart's, which actually has nothing to do with her own company, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, but has everything to do with Martha Stewart, whose name is on almost all of MSOs products. Shareholders have been on hold for the duration of the 10 months since the investigation was first leaked to the press, and shares are down 60%. US Attorney James Comey, who inherited the case late in the game from the multiple investigations-to-nowhere emanating from Washington DC, is the latest to try his hand at resolving Americas Favorite Scandal. To his credit, Mr. Comey gave himself a deadline to announce his decision in the case, which is now just 16 days away. Our sources indicated that the decision was to make an announcement this week, but now it seems like deadlines are slipping once again. Justice delayed is justice denied. For the sake of Martha, her employees and shareholders, it's time to sauté It or get off the pot!

In spite of scandal, Martha's new furniture line rolls along--News Sentinel

"There's a lot of excitement about the Martha Stewart line, and I don't know that it's the same for other furniture," said Jackie Hirschhaut, spokeswoman for the American Furniture Manufacturers Association. "Martha fans are Martha fans - she's got a pretty huge following."

Fans who peeked at the furniture while awaiting Stewart's speech gave it rave reviews. Among the items on display: A cream-colored kitchen table that will retail for around $1,300, a matching hutch that will go for about $2,400, side chairs for about $300 each, and a floral-patterned easy chair for about $800.

"It has nice clean lines, it's sturdy, it looks well-constructed, and you've got to figure it's the best there is," said Jan Whitesell, who needs new bedroom and dining room furniture. Neither economic uncertainty nor Stewart's troubles would influence Whitesell's decision on whether to buy the items, she said.

Still no word on Martha's fate...

While we await a decision from the investigators of Martha Stewart's sale of a few shares of ImClone, our troops march on to Baghdad while Geraldo Rivera is being escorted out of Iraq, the SEC is in high gear on HealthSouth and other major fraud cases, SARS has broken out and threatens to shut down Hong Kong and Singapore, and Derek Jeter is out with a shoulder injury that could end the Yankees season before it even begins. But the minute the news breaks about Martha's fate, the media will pounce once again. If it's more bad news, it will be on the front pages right next to "shock and awe." If (and when) Martha is exonerated, it will be buried in the back next to the horoscopes and singles ads. To mark Martha's redemption, we are preparing two lists, one for the media and one for Martha. One is a list of all those who need to apologize to Martha for their harsh treatment and false accusations. Chris Byron needn't worry, he's right at the top. The other is a list for Martha to help her begin the rebuilding. Stay tuned....

Martha Takes a Pay Cut
In addition to losing $400 million on paper, Martha Stewart took a big pay cut last year. Martha's compensation was reduced 19% to $2.1 milion. She received $900,000 in salary, $680,000 in bonus and $616,707 in other payments. The lower pay was due to the company''s reduced profitability from the impact of the ImClone scandal, now in its second year. If that's a down payment for a little good karma, expect Martha Stewart to ask for some change back, she deserves it.

SAM'S BIG TAX BILL--NY Post
As if Sam Waksal didn't have enough problems, now his former company says he failed to pay as much as $23.3 million in state and federal income taxes. ImClone, which Waksal co-founded with his brother Harlan, the company's current CEO, is being forced to pay a tax bill for failing to withhold taxes on options exercised by Waksal in 1999 and 2000, ImClone said yesterday. Waksal could face an additional seven to 10 years for evading federal tax.

The End Draws Near...

SaveMartha has learned that we are about to discover Martha's fate this week, perhaps even before our troops reach Baghdad. After 442 days of investigations, even rabid Martha bashers are getting fatigued. The latest story about yet another attempt to link Martha to inside trading with HealthSouth, which broke over the weekend, has not even been picked up in the major media: the NY Post, the Times and the WSJ all took a pass. This is a minor miracle, and shows the case has run its course. Have they finally recognized this sad affair for what it really is, the attempted murder of Martha Stewarts business and reputation? Prediction: this patient will survive.

But one barbarian is still at the gate...

One notable member of the media is still sounding rather bitter: Martha Inc. author Chris Byron, who takes a few more swipes at Martha today in the NY Post. Oddly, Byron does not even mention HealthSouth, which even he can see through as a non-event. But Byron still has hidden caches of WMD (Weapons of Mass Distortion) and we intend to neutralize them. In an article about World Wrestling Entertainment, Byron shows his unique talent of relating Martha Stewart to any topic. Sadly, Byron resorts to name calling again, naming Martha "Queen of White-Bread Living." Chris, that sure beats being the "King of Tabloid Terrorism."

In a bizarre, rambling article that ranges from Iraq to wrestling to Demingism to Martha, Byron can't even get it up anymore with a good insult, settling for "Martha herself is of course a lifestyle stunt," her firm is a "one-trick pony," and "Martha's company is already reeling from its struggle to escape the taint of its namesake's legal problems." Chris forgets to say that Martha has been charged with nothing. Nothing! And Martha is not the one whose pants are being sued off for libel. Martha's troubles have helped Chris Byron become rich and famous. I'd expect Byron to get a little more gratitude in the attitude. Perhaps when Martha is cleared this week he will.

Feds Go Fishing Down South

SEC Investigates Martha Stewart link to HealthSouth insider trading

As if she did not have enough problems already, the SEC is now investigating whether HealthSouth founder and former CEO Richard Scrushy provided Martha Stewart with insider information about his company. All the rattling we have been hearing out of DC over the past few weeks is evidently the sound of the feds rummaging through peoples drawers to try to find anything, anything, to link Martha to insider trading. Apparently the ImClone case is going nowhere, and the spectacular demise over the last few weeks of HealthSouth in a major accounting fraud case provided the feds with another opportunity to Get Martha.

Why has the investigation switched from ImClone to HealthSouth? You see, Martha Stewart attended Richard Scrushy's wedding in Jamaica a few years back. And she probably had a few shares of HealthSouth which are only useful now to practice origami. In any case, it was likely a minor investment in a friends company. So HealthSouth suddenly implodes, and CEO Scrushy is looking like the next Ken Lay (although strangely enough, no charges have ever been brought against Dubyas loyal friend and largest campaign donor). Wow, what a good opportunity to cut another deal with a CEO facing decades behind bars. So two weeks ago Richard Scrushy was asked in an SEC deposition whether he had passed stock tips about his company to Martha Stewart. Can you hear Richard saying, "huh?" In the midst of a $1.4 billion accounting scandal, that sounds like an odd question to ask. Quite odd, unless you are fishing for more evidence to build a case that's gone nowhere.

According to the Birmingham News:

"In answer to questions about Martha Stewart and stock sales, he (Scrushy) said, "No. I can tell you that I did not have a conversation with Martha Stewart."

Scrushy's testimony in the deposition is already under suspicion. In a court filing, the SEC said last week that Scrushy "testified untruthfully" regarding share sales in the deposition that mentions Stewart and the others.

"Neither Martha Stewart nor Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has any relationship with Mr. Scrushy or HealthSouth," said Elizabeth Estroff, a spokeswoman for Martha Stewart Living. "Any speculation to the contrary is without foundation."

Pretty soon they will be trying to link Martha Stewart to Richard Perles slimy war contracts and Uday Husseins penchant for collecting garden tools. Will this never end?

Full disclosure: My former boss Robert May is is a director and now the acting CEO of HealthSouth. I just hope Bob gets out of there alive. Sorry, I don't own any HealthSouth shares either. But I do have an insider tip for investigators: it's time to stop digging for clams in the desert and move on. There are likely dozens of other HealthSouths and Enrons just waiting to be uncovered out there, and it's time, as they say, to stick to your knitting.

ImClones Erbitux drug works after all
Our theme this week is that,like the proverbial man lost in the forest, everything in the universe eventually comes full circle. This whole thing which Newsweek once called Martha's Mess (it was really Sam Waksal's mess, but Sam doesn't have a line of garden tools) began because of an FDA letter saying a cancer drug named Erbitux had not passed an early trial. Pretty soon, everyone was selling ImClone, the feds started investigating, and the rest is history. As it turns out, that letter was worth about as much as the paper it was printed on: nothing. It turns out that the FDA approval process may just have been a tad too conservative. According to the Wall Street Journal, Erbitux "helps fight colon cancer, according to an independent review of a highly anticipated trial." And ImClone is up 173% since last September. Wouldn't it be really funny if Martha decided to buy a few shares of ImClone after she is cleared of all these ridiculous charges? Full Circle.

Warming up for Martha, Jay Leno tees off on Connie Chung:
"Welcome to "The Tonight Show" ... I’m Jay Leno ... Connie Chung is off tonight! You hear about this? Connie Chung got fired. CNN fired her. It was cruel how she found out. She was watching Fox News!"

Jay, we hope when it happens to you, you find out about it by watching Letterman!

Martha heads south to Charlotte--News 14 Carolina
Homemaking guru and recent insider trading suspect Martha Stewart was in Charlotte Thursday to talk about domestic arts. Stewart visited the Mint Museum of Art’s In Bloom celebration. While in the Queen City, Stewart will be showcasing her gardening skills. She is known around the world for her billion-dollar media empire of books, television shows and magazines.

Watch the News14 Video (SaveMartha makes a cameo appearance)

Martha Stewart Everyday... at SearsMart?

+ Kmart

What if Kmart, which is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy, merged with Sears, which is struggling to expand to compete with Target and WalMart, creating a mega-retail empire, and a huge outlet for Martha Stewart's Everyday line? Sounds far-fetched, right? Maybe it's not so unlikely after all. Kmart's largest investor is Edward Lampert, one of the nations wealtiest men, with an estimated $800 million personal fortune. Mr. Lampert already owns a controlling stake in Kmart, for which he paid half a billion dollars. Now he has amassed enough stock in Sears, Roebuck and Co. to make him its second-largest owner.

According to Jennifer Dixon of the Detriot Free Press, in a merger "Kmart gets some of Sears' best-known brands, Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools, lawn and garden equipment. Sears stores get Martha Stewart's exclusive Everyday line of home, garden and decorating goods carried only by Kmart in the United States. Sears will begin to carry Stewart's Everyday line in its Canadian stores this summer." Adding to this merger possibility is the experience of Kmart CEO Julian Day. Mr. Day was a senior executive at Sears before he joined Kmart.

If a merger indeed occurs, Martha Stewart Everyday would be the premier line in a retailer with combined annual revenues of over $70 billion, a new brand image, and all those cool Sears appliances, tools, and lawn and garden items for cross merchandising and Everyday brand extensions. It's a marketers dream. If our hunch is right, this may soon be a marketers reality. Save Martha!

Kmart investor hush-hush on retailing plans
BY JENNIFER DIXON
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
At the same time secretive, savvy investor Edward Lampert was buying a controlling stake in Kmart Corp., he was quietly amassing enough stock in Sears, Roebuck and Co. to make him its second-largest owner. Could he be thinking merger? Is he hedging his bets? Does he want to get his hands on Sears and Kmart's real estate? Or is he just rummaging for bargain prices in the retail bin? When it comes to his plans for Kmart, and the future of the century-old retailer with its roots in Detroit, Lampert isn't saying.

CNN says Don't SaveConnie!

Just two weeks ago we published a column entitled Save Connie Too. It was about the unfair campaign being waged against Connie Chung at CNN, one that smelled a lot like what has happened to Martha Stewart. Rumors and leaks about Ted Turner and CNNs management's dislike of Connie abounded, both in the NY Post and on CNN itself. The leaks to the press appeared to us to be designed to pressure Connie to leave CNN. Some readers suggested we were just being paranoid. CNN wouldn't get rid of a star like Connie. Guess whose show was just abruptly cancelled by CNN?

Connie Chung, CNNs only female, only Asian-American anchor with her own show (Paula Zahn shares duties on the morning show with much less qualified male anchors) was abruptly told today her show was cancelled. This comes just a few weeks after CNN canned the long-running Talkback Live, which featured CNNs only African American female host, Arthelle Nevile, who we liked because she had a great live-audience call in show, and also because she wore a SaveMartha beach hat on CNN last summer. Is Paula Zahn next?

According to the NY Times: "The ratings for Ms. Chung's program were among the strongest on CNN and would not seem to have marked it for cancellation. She was watched by about a million viewers nightly, and her audience had grown in recent months. It was up more than 50 percent over the program CNN had in the same time slot last year. Throughout her career, Ms. Chung, 56, has consistently been among the most popular figures in TV news."

The real problem in Turnerville is that FOX News is cleaning CNN's clock and has taken over the #1 spot. Scapegoat anyone? Round up the women, the gays, the blacks the asians, round up the Martha's, the Rosies, the Connies and the Arthelles, blame them, that will get us ratings! CNN is trying to be the "Conservative News Network" but that's not why viewers watch CNN. FOX owns the conservative audience, which already calls CNN the "Commie News Network". The worm has turned in America, and the worm is voting Republican. That scares CNN. Even celebrities are switching sides. The biggest laugh at the Academy Awards came after Michael Moore made his anti-war speech and was booed off the stage. Host Steve Martin came on and delivered a classic line: "Oh, it was so sweet backstage ... you should see it. The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo."

CNN needs to go back to reporting the news, and it needs to become the anti-Fox network if it is to survive, but they are already headed down a very dark alley. Pretending to be a conservative news network is like pretending to surrender in Iraq these days; it's likely to get you killed. After Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and Drudge get through with their critique of CNNs coverage of the war in Iraq, CNN may be known as the "Cancelled News Network." SaveCNN? It may be too late...

Connie Chung Will Leave CNN--NY Times

Rumor du Jour: more rumblings out of the investigations in Washington DC of possible movement in the case. Deal or indictment? Stay tuned..

Settlement Discussions Planned for this Week

Fans awaiting good news...

SaveMartha has learned that discussions between Martha Stewart's lawyers and federal prosecutors will take place again this week. In a final bid to resolve this matter without going to trial, negotiations will focus on possible resolutions that could involve remedies from Martha Stewart paying back the estimated $40-$60,000 which was saved due to the timing of her ImClone sale, to a fine and apology, to a disbarrment rom running a publicly traded company. Under normal circumstances, Martha would probably have already settled the matter with a check for less than the price of a case of Château Pétrus 1945, if you could find a whole case, that is. But times are almost never normal, and that's particularly true today. Martha sailed into the Perfect Storm, and has already paid the price for her unlucky timing.

Spinning Weills Go Round and Round...
Like karma and the shape of the universe, things have a funny way of coming full circle. Recall that this scandal forced Martha Stewart to step down from the board of the NYSE last year, a board to which Citibank Chief executive Sandy Weill (whose company allegedly donated $1 million to the 92nd St. Y just so that Jack Grubmans kids could get into nursery school) was just nominated. The NYSE thought it was a good idea for Sandy Weill to look out for small investors. But wasn't it Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney unit which agreed to pay a whopping $400 million investor fraud settlement, including the largest fine of any firm investigated for its conflicted research practices that hurt small investors? And wasn't is Sandy Weill who came under scrutiny for calling on the firm's former analyst Jack Grubman to re-evaluate his bearish rating on AT&T Corp?

Amazingly, there was no public outcry about Sandy Weill's nomination to the NYSE board. Had Sandy's name been Martha, some investigator would no doubt have had the entire stock exchange shut down. And the media barely blinked. But miracles do happen: New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer stepped in at the last minute over the weekend in a rare act of conscience and sanity. According to the Wall Street Journal's, Charles Gasparino, "Mr. Spitzer called the nomination an "outrage" and "a gross violation of the public trust." Guess who just decided to withdraw his nomination from the NYSE board? As if the 24 hour Godfather marathon on AMC somehow played a karmic role, Just when Sandy was in, they pulled him back out! Full Circle.

And That's Why Martha will Soon be Saved
We have come full circle. Martha lost $400 million on a $250,000 stock deal. If that's her down payment on a little good karma, expect Martha Stewart to ask for some change back. This week expect the parties to settle this amicably, so bring your favorite comfort foods and we'll get the Pétrus ready to celebrate.

MARTHA IS PAYING LEGAL FEES FOR POTENTIAL IMCLONE WITNESS , By LAUREN BARACK
"Martha Stewart is shelling out thousands of dollars in legal fees for pal Mariana Pasternak - a woman who could be used as a witness against Stewart, The Post has learned. Pasternak asked Stewart for $150,000 to pay her mortgage and her legal fees - just before Pasternak began speaking with the Justice Department last year.

Pasternak flew with Stewart to Mexico on Dec. 27 - the day Stewart sold her 3,928 shares in biotech company ImClone, whose founder and former CEO Sam Waksal has been indicted for insider trading.

Stewart balked at paying Pasternak's housing costs, but agreed to pay her legal expenses, according to a source familiar with the investigation."

The NY Post headline should read: "Martha Stewart helps a friend in need."
But that would just prove all the nasty rumors that the tabloids like to spread about Martha are wrong. Martha is helping a close friend through a difficult time, and if you're the NY Post, that must be illegal. Why would Martha do such a thing? Maybe because Martha's friend Mariana has been dragged into a very expensive and protracted legal proceeding that is now more than a year old. You will recall she was on Martha's plane the day she sold ImClone shares, and Mariana is alleged to have called her ex-husband Bart to advise him to sell as well. Bart Pasternak then sold a reported 10,000 shares that day, which was a small percentage of his holdings. Mariana needed some help, and Martha evidently provided it. So they finally have a charge that will stick: Martha Stewart is guilty of helping a friend. What's the world coming to?

Deconstructing Byron: Vol. 11
Strategy: Get Others to Pay
by Andrew Ritchie
With a title reeking of contempt for Martha, Chris Byron begins a descent into unabashed criticism and nastiness that peaks during the next three chapters of Martha Inc. Her business strategy, he asserts, has been to get others to pay for her success, often using sneaky and devious methods to worm her way into the best possible deal for herself. As an example, Byron cites Martha’s purchase of the Adam’s house up the street from her home in Connecticut, a purchase that totaled $535,000. But as we will see, Martha’s “strategy” was to simply ask a question. (Read More)

An investor makes the case for Martha:

Martha Stewart’s ImClone Trade –A Banconovic Misappropriation Case? By Jon Parker

Despite many published reports by the news media, Martha Stewart’s ImClone trade of 3,928 shares on Dec 27,2001 is in reality not a case of insider trading. A careful reading of Merrill Lynch assistant Douglas Faneuils plea indicates that the government is attempting to make the case that Martha’s broker Peter Banconovic misappropriated Merrill Lynch trade data. I believe that according to established law that he did not. Without proof of Bacanovic’s misappropriation, there can be no insider trading case against Martha Stewart. (Read More)

Wanted for Outsider Trading, by James Ostrowski
Those who lost their laptops buying overpriced stocks are looking for scapegoats. The self-made delusionaires are hunting for self-made millionaires. They are no better at picking the villains of the stock market bubble burst than they were at picking stocks. Accordingly, one of our most productive citizens is being targeted for destruction by our most unproductive entity, the federal government, whose principals are always whoring after the votes of the depraved. So I decided to find out what Martha Stewart's legal exposure was.

Insider trading is trading with nonpublic information "in breach of a duty of trust or confidence that is owed . . . to the issuer of that security or the shareholders. . . " Since all language in a statute is presumed to mean something, it is apparent that not all trading with nonpublic information is banned, only that which breaches a duty of trust or confidence. Sadly, that critical element is not defined.

The good news for Martha, however, is that by no stretch of the imagination does she, an outsider, owe a duty of trust or confidence to the corporation or its shareholders. She is not an officer or director or employee of the corporation. Martha, you’re off the hook. No charge; it's on me. (
Read More)

Richard Johnson's Page Six

MARTHA Stewart doesn't bother to watch herself — or news about herself — on television anymore. "I like Animal Planet," Stewart told TV Guide. "My dogs [chow chows Paw Paw and ZuZu] watch it, too. They like the crocodile guy [Steve Irwin] . . . I also like the History Channel. I'm a multi-tasker. Today I watched a History Channel special on Ronald Reagan while I was creating sewing kits for my three houses."

Martha hits Europe for a little Retail Therapy
Martha Stewart breezed through this week's European Fine Art Fair in the Netherlands, and told the NY Times: "I'm looking at furniture designs to get inspiration for my own furniture line," said Ms. Stewart. Allegations of insider trading with the founder and former chairman of ImClone Systems, Samuel D. Waksal, has not seemed to diminish her appetite for art or antiques. "Many of my friends told me they weren't coming," Ms. Stewart said. "But life has to go on."

"Martha Inc" The Movie Will Be Hastily Forgotten
But damage will be done
By Andrew Ritchie

All this drivel about Cybil Shepherd "channeling Martha" to make her performance in the upcoming TV movie more accurate, to give it balance and fairness, is all a white-wash attempt to mask the real intention of the film, which is to make money off another person's problems.

At least NBC knew where to turn for its source: Chris Byron's reptilian bio of Martha has just the right mix of misogyny and hack psycho-babble to make for that "complex drama" the producers must have been looking for.

What the people at CNBC maybe don't realize is that once the movie airs it will be hastily forgotten by just about everyone...except Martha, and the hundreds of people who work for her, who will be scrambling to undertake the damage control after the fallout from the film's broadcast. (
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GE Brings "A Good Thing" To Life

But is NBC turning into the Nepotism Broadcasting Company?

"Martha Stewart is a survivor and so am I," says actress Cybill Shepard

GE, the parent company of NBC, has cornered the market on the Martha Stewart story, and is launching a media blitz sure to put the scandal back on the front pages, no matter how much more damage it causes Martha Stewart. NBC bought the rights to Chris Byrons Martha, Inc. just months after the scandal broke, and unlike most investors these days they are going to make sure they get a return on their investment in the TV movie.

In a 6 minute segment on CNBC, Cybill Shepherd revealed she hasn't had time to cook any of Martha's recipes herself, so she hired a chef to do it for her and thinks they are quite delicious. She also "mentioned" that she has Matt Lauer to thank for saying she should play the role--he works, of course, for NBC. An hour after the 6 minute infomercial aired on CNBC, MSNBC published the whole transcript of CNBC's story on their website. Notice a trend here? Watch for lots more coverage on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.

The danger is that in their rush to do "integrated marketing" to push the TV movie, NBCs news and entertainment businesses may have already overlapped. Producers of the movie admitted they considered filming three different endings to the story, then letting viewers decide which outcome they wanted to see. (Press 1 for indictment, 2 for exoneration, 3 for reality...) Yet another example of NBC creating a whole new genre of Reality TV comes at the end of the CNBC report when they ask Cybill if she would come back to film Martha in handcuffs if the story takes a bad turn.  “I think that’d be very interesting,” Shepherd said with a grin. “Not for Martha maybe.” Kinky.

Tell Cybill Shepherd it's not a good thing!

Even CNN is getting pretty fed up with the never-ending scandal:

Martha: Fish or cut bait--CNN Money, by Allen Wastler
If the feds can't induce a perp walk from Stewart by now, they should just let her walk.
OK, things are getting a little unfair for Martha Stewart. Mr. Spitzer? SEC guys? Are you listening? Either charge her or let her walk.

I don't say this because I'm a particular fan of the home living maven. I find her kind of irritating in that use-this-coaster-I-made-myself-out-of-dried-flowers-and-beeswax-dear way... made even more abrasive by the fact that her efforts actually turn out pretty well.

Hey, if she did do the crime she should pay. But that hasn't been proven and doesn't look like it is going to be proven. Punishing someone isn't right if you can't make a case.

Dear Allen--as far as we know, Elliott Spitzer is just about the only prosecutor who is not currently going after Martha Stewart. Mr. Spitzer has been focussing on the real cases of investor fraud which affected millions, cases that will help reform the system and send the real bad guys to jail...but thanks for the support anyway.

Aliza Waksal just might SaveMartha!

Aliza Waksal was originally described by prosecutors as having been "tipped" by Sam Waksal to sell her ImClone shares. But in a deal her father made with the SEC, that language was changed to say Aliza was "directed" by her father to sell her shares. According to the SEC, being advised or directed to sell is apparently not considered insider trading. Here's a handy guide to compare her case with Martha's. As you can see, she sold 10 times more stock than Martha did, and got her "direction" to sell from the source, directly from the CEO of ImClone, who also happens to be her father. If Aliza Waksal is not guilty of insider trading, as far as Martha's case is concerned, that's a good thing!

Aliza Waksal
Martha Stewart
Number of ImClone Shares Sold 39,472 3,928
Proceeds from sale $2.5 million $230,000
How much was saved by selling $630,295 $60,000
Who advised sale of ImClone Her father, the CEO of ImClone Broker Peter Bacanovic, based on plan to sell shares under $60
Status of advisor Faces 8-10 years in jail Still under investigation
Currently Not guilty of insider trading Still under investigation

Spring is in the air

Sam Waksals settlement moves Martha closer to victory

Now that the Feds have finally admitted that Sam Waksal's daughter Aliza is not guilty of insider trading, Martha has moved closer to victory. Yesterday's settlement revealed a key element of what unfolded on December 27, 2001, when it seemed just about everyone started selling ImClone. In the rush to get out the door, Sam Waksal told his daughter it was time to sell, so she sold. Initially Aliza was charged with insider trading. And now suddenly she is not. What happened?

Why the Feds reversed course

The amusing fiction the Feds came up with to explain their complete reversal of the charges against her was that Aliza was solely dependent on her father for support, and that that fact somehow made her innocent of insider trading. That's like saying it was really Daddy's gun, so even though Aliza pulled the trigger she is somehow innocent of the crime. That's ridiculous. It was Aliza Waksal who called Peter Bacanovic and ordered the sale of stock, not Sam Waksal. If she did not control the account, her broker could never have sold. But he did.

To see how the case against Aliza could not have been made under current law, here's what the amended SEC complaint says:

14. In the morning of December 27, before the market opened, (Sam) Waksal knowingly or recklessly, for his direct or indirect benefit and in breach of a fiduciary duty to ImClone and its shareholders, had a telephone conversation with his daughter, Aliza, while in possession of material, non-public information that the FDA had decided to issue an RTF letter to ImClone on December 28.

15. At that time, Waksal was Aliza's sole means of support and controlled her bank and brokerage accounts.

16. During the conversation referred to in paragraph 14, Waksal directed Aliza to sell all of her ImClone shares. By causing Aliza to sell ImClone stock, Waksal benefited because he was her entire means of financial support.

It appears that the real reason the Feds reversed course was that under current insider trading law that they never had a case against Aliza, because she did not have a fiduciary responsibility to ImClone, and because there was no evidence she knew about the FDA's decision which would send the shares plummeting. But the Feds had to find a reason for backing off of Waksal's daughter, and they came up with a doozy. Paragraph 16 may be remembered as the "Sugar Daddy" defense; "My stock was dropping and if I lost any more money in the markets, my Sugar Daddy, who is my entire means of financial support, would have had to dig even deeper to buy me that Fifth Avenue condo. "

Aliza Gets an A+ in Insider Trading 101
There is much confusion about what this case is all about. Someone telling you it's time to sell is not enough to make you guilty of insider trading. There was obviously no evidence Aliza had misappropriated information and used it to her advantage. That is the definition of insider trading, which is so often forgotten in the media. So lets review:

The three things that must be proved in order to label insider trading activity illegal are:
1) trading occurred (YES);
2) the trade occurred while the person was in possession of material, nonpublic information, (NO EVIDENCE) and;
3) the person who did the trading had access to the information as a result of a relationship of trust or fiduciary duty that was subsequently violated by the trading. In other words, the information was misappropriated. (NO!)

Why Martha's case just got stronger

Martha Stewart is an even more favorable position than Aliza Waksal, and thanks to this reversal, her case is now even clearer. Martha sold based on a pre-existing plan or intent to sell (it is well known that she had tried to sell all her ImClone shares months before) and the timing was based on her broker Peter Bacanovic's recommendation. Remember that Peter was also the broker for both Aliza and Sam Waksal. Aliza sold her shares hours before Martha did, based on recommendation her father, the CEO of the company whose shares she was selling, a CEO who had insider information. Peter Bacanovic most likely saw the sales coming though, saw the heavy volume being traded, and did what any good broker would do--he advised his best client it was time to get out. To do anything else would be irresponsible.

Martha sold when her broker advised her to sell. If Aliza sold because her father told her to sell, and she was found innocent of insider trading, than so is Martha, who had already demonstrated her intent to sell all the shares.

So when will Martha be Saved?

Without an easily winnable insider trading case, now the Feds have to fall back on the perjury trap, that somehow Martha lied about the circumstances of her sale. One tactic has been the claim that she did not really have a stop-loss order in place. But Merill Lynch had a computer glitch which did not allow an automatic sale of stocks traded on the NASDAQ. So her broker had to call her to confirm the sale. Wouldn't you want your broker to do the same?

Crisis Management 101: Proper Use of the Transition

Most people believe Martha Stewart is in so much trouble because she sold her ImClone shares a few days too soon, but that's not quite true. Nobody knows the facts of the case. And we still believe Martha will be found not guilty of insider trading. So why was there such a public rush to judgment? According to The Globe and Mail's James Gray, a big reason was Martha's misuse of the transition; the turning point in a conversation when you can refocus any question to your own advantage. The transition is the key to framing the dialog in a way that makes it appear that you are answering the question when in fact you are redirecting the conversation in ways that favor you.

When Martha was asked by Jane Clayson on CBS Morning News about the scandal, Martha used a transition, saying she would be exonerated of this ridiculousness, and then said , "I just want to focus on my salad." Immediately, the media turned into a ravenous horde of vegetarians, piling their plates high with the now infamous salad quote.

Every situation in life is rhetorical. Logic and emotion rule the human mind, and language is the key to eliciting the desired response. The little kids in the playground did not pounce on Martha because of what she did, but rather, for what she said. Martha knew that she would be asked the question, and her PR team should have had her better prepared with a good response. All Martha needed was a better transition. James Gray of The Globe and Mail suggests this one:

"I've always conducted myself honestly and I always will. When all the facts in this matter have been fully investigated I'll be vindicated. Now, let's get back to the matter at hand."

There is no doubt that Jane Clayson was relentless in her pursuit of Martha around the kitchen counter, but any good reporter with an exclusive like this would have done the same. Had Martha said words like these, the public response would have been much more muted. But once the salad quote made it into the evening news, this now most infamous transition became a part of modern history. Learn to use the transition correctly, it could help you get out of a tough jam, and you too will be able to focus on your salad.

Ten top transitions
From the Globe and Mail

"I see things differently." (Respectful, but firm.)

"On the contrary" or "just the opposite." (Quickly reorients the conversation without restating the negative.)

"That's not the issue. The issue is . . ." (Forceful and authoritative.)

"Let me provide you with some context." (Needed perspective, your way.)

"That would be speculation. What I can tell you is that . . ." (You can only speak about what you know.)

"The important point here is that . . ." (Can't be ignored.)

"That's true. However, what you need to keep in mind is . . ." (Polite yet direct.)

"I don't know -- that's not my area of expertise. What I do know is that . . ." (What you say now has to have value.)

"Let's get back to the real issue." (A strong redirect.)

"Before I wrap up, I'd like to emphasize . . ." (To solidify your point.)

Martha Strikes Back

Blames frenzied media, ongoing investigation for first loss in MSO history

Tabloid Terrorism Must End

Did you know that Martha Stewart was on the front page of the NY Post and NY Daily News 15 times last August? That they constantly used the terms "Diva" and "Queen," words which deride Martha and smear her image? Or that half of Americans say they are following this story? Or that Martha was the #2 search on AOL last year, right behind 9/11? Or that Forbes put Martha on the cover of their 400 richest issue alongside the word "Gone!"

The media frenzy and the public addiction to the tabloid news drug has gone too far. Enough is enough. Now Martha Stewart and her senior executives are finally fighting back. According to Newsday: "Sharon Patrick, president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, repeatedly cited the "negative media environment" while discussing a drop in circulation of Martha Stewart Living magazine and catalog sales during a report to Wall Street analysts. It was a rebuke that resonates with many experts who monitor press coverage."

Save Martha in the news:

Martha, In the Soup
Taking Stock of the Phenomenon Who's Stirred Up Women, by Paula Span --The Washington Post
"Fans on SaveMartha.com are sure she's the victim of media and prosecutorial conspiracies. "I wouldn't doubt if Wal-Mart was in on this," one bitter defender wrote.

The guy who runs that site, a 40-year-old Manhattan business consultant named John Small, is sometimes puzzled by the venom. Why don't the people who dislike Stewart so just ignore her?

Stewart's public-relations sense, so sure early on, has proved unequal to this crisis. She's not giving interviews these days, except for serving lunch to a New Yorker writer, or making many public appearances.

If only she'd gone on "Saturday Night Live" to make fun of herself, à la Bill Clinton's famous sax solo on the Arsenio Hall show, muses Small, who's worked in corporate brand management. (And who has sold about $100,000 worth of Save Martha barbecue aprons and chef's toques on the SaveMartha site.)

If only she'd taken her Kmart tools and Sherwin-Williams paints and TV cameras to a Habitat for Humanity home-building site in the South Bronx. "Maybe she comes across as too WASPy or remote," Small says. "She needs to communicate that she's a real person."

Oprah joins list of Forbes Billionaires

Will we need to SaveOprah next?

Ten digits. That's what Forbes says Oprah Winfrey is now worth. While Martha Stewart is no longer on the list of billionaires as a result of the media's misogyny, Oprah Winfrey has joined the ranks of Forbes billionaires. That's both good news and bad. It's good to finally have an African-American woman on the list. It's good just to have another woman on the list, period. Of the 476 billionaires listed, only 37 are women, and many of those are Sam Walton's daughters. In fact, only 3 women who have ever made the list were self-made billionaires: Oprah Winfrey, Doris Fisher of the Gap, and Martha Stewart. And since Martha got knocked off the list last year, now there are just two.

But now Oprah will be an even more likely target of the unfair attacks and scrutiny that goes with being a rich powerful female. That list includes Martha Stewart, Rosie O'Donnell, Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina of HP and Jill Barad of Mattel. Rich and powerful women are held to a different standard than their male counterparts. The fact that most men don't get this while most women do is proof enough, especially since it's the men that run the media, and the system that metes out justice. We hope that Oprah is the exception to the rule. But just in case, SaveOprah.com is waiting to take up the cause.

Save Connie Too

The premise of SaveMartha.com is that there is a double standard for women in business and in the media. Misogyny is epidemic in a culture where Rush Limbaugh gets paid $250 million for calling women who defend their rights Femi-Nazis, where Anna Nicole Smith is the highest rated show on E! channel, where Martha Stewart is attacked for months for a minor stock trade in another company, while Bush's Harken and Cheney's Halliburton, and Lay's Enron are forgotten. Women have a much harder path to the top, and are treated more unfairly when men decide it's time to find a scapegoat or to "put them back in their place."

Connie Chung is the latest example of this societal malaise. Rumors of her demise have been leaked to the press, Ted Turner is said to believe her show is "awful" (No Ted, awful would be your broken promise to give the UN $1 Billion. That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Don't let your mouth write a check your ass can't cash."). CNN old-timers are said to be unhappy with Connie's tabloid approach to journalism. But wasn't it CNN's Larry King who made Chandra Levy a household name? Wasn't is CNN that made OJ Simpson's case the model for tabloid journalism? And what about all the hours they spend on shark attack scares and live car chases and Jon Benet Ramsey? Maybe the real problem is that Fox News is cleaning CNN's clock and have taken over the #1 spot. Scapegoat anyone?

Connie Chung is one of only three female anchors in primetime. Another is Greta van Sustern, who was attacked for having minor plastic surgery. She's also the only Asian-American with her own national news show. Connie is up against the top-rated The O'Reilly Factor and reality tv, and she's holding her own. In fact, Connie's ratings are up over 50% since her show began. CNN should find the real fix for their problems and give Connie the support she deserves.

Talk about cutting it close, it's almost Easter and still no announcement...could this mean there really is no Easter bunny?

US Attorrney James Comey, who is in charge of the Martha Stewart investigation, has reached his deadline to announce a decision in the case before Easter. At the time he told WNBC that Easter was the cutoff date, Comey's statement made it sound like that was plenty of time to make a move in the case. That was almost three months ago. If an announcement still does not come, perhaps we should ask if he meant this Easter or next. It is pretty ironic that we could indeed be seeing the Easter bunny before we see any closure in the matter that has been such a drag on Martha's company for over a year. We are almost at zero in the Comey Countdown, so just in case prosecutors have forgotten how to count, our Easter recipe of the day is Martha's 1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake. Yum!

What's the dang holdup?
It's no surprise to anyone following this soap opera that after 456 days of investigation, nothing has yet happened. Many Wall Street pundits and lawyers, from CNBCs Larry Kudlow to CNNs Jeffrey Toobin, have said there is no insider trading case here. Martha was not an insider, and we have no laws covering outside traders. Sam Waksals daughter has not even been charged, although she sold 10 times more than Martha on the same day.

In spite of the fact that no evidence has ever been produced, the conviction of Martha Stewart in the media was instant; just two weeks after the probe was leaked to the press, Newsweek came up with their infamous cover story, Martha's Mess. It was off to the races for the media, which was starved for any real drama, plus they needed something to fill the gap between the end of the Chandra Levy case and the beginning of the war. Last August alone, the NY Post and Daily News featured Martha 14 times on the front page. That's a great way to distract you from the fact that Osama is still missing in action, and so is the economy. If there's a case, we should find out this week. But you're more likely to see the Easter bunny, so get out the Paas Easter Egg decorating sets and get hopping.

Despite War and Investigation, Martha Stewart's New Furniture Line Creates Stir--Knight Ridder
Uniformed security guards kept most people at a distance, and nobody was permitted to take snapshots. But businesswoman and lifestyle diva Martha Stewart left hundreds of Charlotte-area fans with autographed copies of her books and nearly a full hour's worth of her gardening wisdom last week.

Stewart's visit to Charlotte, part of a fund-raiser for Charlotte's Mint Museum, was also an occasion to promote her new Martha Stewart Signature furniture line. The furniture -- manufactured at Bernhardt Furniture in Lenoir, N.C. -- is hitting stores for the first time and makes its first official marketing push this month.

Between the war in Iraq, declining consumer confidence, weak economic conditions and Stewart's personal troubles -- a criminal investigation into her stock trading persists -- the timing of the furniture line's debut is less than ideal. But furniture industry insiders say they think the furniture will appeal to consumers, and might even breathe some life into the lagging furniture industry.

Heard on Yahoo: Investor Parker decries the Escargot Pace of the Case

Prosecutors-He who hesitates is lost...
There is no new information on the Martha Stewart case since the WNBC story with the alledged Comey leak that there was enough evidence to charge her and a decision made by Easter how to proceed, unless you consider that Waksal's daughter was cleared of insider trading and trading knowing the FDA decision. That makes the case against the brokers and Ms Stewart weaker, not stronger, as it eliminates any case of the FDA decision or ImClone non public information being transmitted or traded upon. The knowing the FDA decision was what Congress was originally investigating Ms Stewart for, and is what she correctly denied doing. When Congress asked the Jusice Depart to investigate Ms Stewart, they were still convinced she had been tipped with the FDA decision. Its clearly not so.

So the question I would ask is, if two months ago, there was still the possibility of implying Ms Stewart and her brokers knew of the FDA decision, and now that door has closed, what has changed in two months that would make Comey/SEC decide to charge her now? If they were going to charge her, they would have done it two months ago. As the old Bridge saying "he who hesistates is lost" applies to evaluating an opponents cards, it also applies in this case.

Parker, that's a very good question. We have heard several times now that the government has enough evidence to charge Martha--first with the SEC Wells notice last fall, then again in the leaks two months ago, but so far it looks like they've got nothin'. This is the last week before US Attorney Comeys announced deadline runs out. Let's see what kind of magic they can whip up in Marthas kitchen. Something (or someone) tells me Martha has already won the bakeoff!

The Comey Countdown: The Final Days

Martha's case puts real-time justice to the test

We are fast approaching the deadline for an announcement in the Martha Stewart case. US Attorney James Comey revealed his pre-Easter deadline to WNBC several months ago. Given the lightning speed of the $2.4 billion fraud case in the HealthSouth investigation, several months now seems like an eternity to examine a single sale of stock, especially in a case now more than a year old. Martha saved roughly $60 thousand by selling her shares on a day when anyone watching CNBC would know that nearly everyone was dumping their shares in ImClone. When people see a stampede, they generally head for the door. It's more than a year later, and everyone is asking, why the delay?

The Rock vs. The Hard Place

The problem is that investigators seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. The rock: prosecutors have been handed a very weak case, as many legal pundits have already pointed out. If they bring the case to trial and lose, they can look forward to having a shorter career than most contestants on The Bachelorette. The hard place: the pressure from power brokers in DC to "Get Martha." Recall this all began with three simultaneous Martha investigations last summer; bureaucrats fiddled with Martha's half-baked case while Enron, Worldcom and Tyco burned. But now they have to contend with the law, which means the case has to be proven, not just leaked to the press. And they have to deal with Martha's lawyers, people who actually know the laws of insider trading and enjoy a good game of hardball. When all the facts on the table just don't add up, real-time justice is about as swift as molasses rolling uphill. We hope Mr. Comey makes the correct decision, swiftly. Just 9 days to go, and counting...

SaveMartha continued...

You Have Mail: Readers Speak Out Against the Investigation

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