WASHINGTON — Martha Stewart can’t seem to shake the feds.
On Tuesday, a congressional panel asked the Department of Justice to look into whether the chief executive officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia deliberately lied or misled their investigators looking into the ImClone stock-dumping scandal.
According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Stewart’s version of events as to why and when she unloaded ImClone stock last December, provided through attorney letters, doesn’t match up to other information gleaned by the panel.
Stewart’s potential crime: violating the federal False Statements Act, a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years for lying to or concealing from Congress material facts in connection with an investigation.
"This is serious business," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R., La.), told reporters, describing how the panel’s concern over Stewart is less about allegations of ImClone insider trading and more about upholding the integrity of congressional inquiries.
Stewart has been investigated by the panel as part of its broader inquiry into the implications of how the Food and Drug Administration notifies companies whether their experimental drugs have been approved. ImClone chief executive officer and Stewart friend Samuel Waksal is facing federal insider trading charges for stock sales that occurred before it became public knowledge that the FDA rejected an ImClone cancer drug.
Until 2 p.m. Tuesday, committee lawyers made overtures to Stewart to testify before the committee to set the record straight. Her attorneys wrote the committee that if Stewart were subpoenaed, they would advise her not to speak. However, once the Justice Department and Congress are finished with their ImClone inquiry, the lawyers said, "she almost certainly would be available for testimony."
Stewart, under scrutiny since January, has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in the ImClone matter. A Justice spokesman said the agency hasn’t made a decision about whether to investigate Stewart.
In a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, the committee cited various discrepancies between Stewart’s version of events that she had a preexisting agreement with her broker, Peter Bacanovic, to sell her ImClone shares if they dipped below $60. In making its case, the panel used telephone records from Bacanovic and his assistant Douglas Faneuil, e-mails, media accounts and an affidavit from Stewart’s assistant, Ann E. Armstrong."This casts significant doubt on Ms. Stewart’s assertion that her decision to sell was based solely on some preexisting agreement with Mr. Bacanovic," the committee wrote Ashcroft. However, the letter noted, "the committee has not reached any formal conclusion as to whether Ms. Stewart’s statements through her legal representatives to the committee would constitute a crime under federal law."
Rep. James Greenwood (R., Pa.), chairman of the Investigations Subcommittee, was more pointed in his assessment: "She is a former stockbroker, she is a CEO of a major corporation. That is quite different from the average little investor sitting at home in their kitchen."
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
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With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)