Documents still may not prevent a Martha subpoena
Martha Stewart finally dished out a giant serving of stock-trade documents to Congress, but they still may not stop her from being served herself — with a subpoena to testify. With the House Energy and Commerce Committee accusing her lawyers of having dragged their feet for months in turning over documents related to Stewart’s controversial sale of her ImClone stock, the attorneys finally handed them over by Tuesday afternoon’s deadline, but she still may not have been as forthcoming as the committee would have liked, since portions of the papers were blacked out.
”We did notice that a number of documents were redacted,” committee spokesman Ken Johnson told the New York Daily News. ”The attorneys…told us that the documents requested contained financial information not related to ImClone. We have told them [to] bring in original copies for our investigators to review…. We’re not in a ‘trust me’ mode right now. Any time you receive documents and you see portions of them blacked out, it raises questions in your mind.”
The documents, which numbered more than 1,000 pages, were supposed to include Stewart’s phone records and e-mails surrounding her ImClone stock sale on Dec. 27, a day before the stock price collapsed upon news of federal rejection of the company’s new cancer drug. That it took such a thick stack of paper to explain away Stewart’s alleged insider trading seemed questionable to at least one committee member. ”I’m just a Texas congressman,” Republican Rep. Joe Barton told the Daily News. ”It wouldn’t take me a thousand pages to prove when I decided to sell or buy a stock.” Asked if Stewart’s attorneys might be trying to bury incriminating evidence in such a massive document dump, Barton said, ”It won’t work, because the committee staff [is] very good and very professional. That dog won’t hunt. If there’s something in there, we’ll get it.”
The papers were delivered around 4 p.m. ET, an hour before the committee-imposed deadline and after the closing bell on Wall Street. So the news of their contents came too late to affect sales yesterday of shares of Stewart’s own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which rose slightly on Tuesday. (The stock price has plummeted since accusations against Stewart arose in June.)
Although she is also being investigated by the Justice Department and the FBI, Stewart has not been charged with a crime. She will, however, face a possible subpoena from Congress if the committee decides that her 1,000-plus pages of redacted documents aren’t informative enough. ”In all likelihood it will take our investigators several weeks to review the documents, and then Chairman [Billy] Tauzin [R-La.] will make a final decision about subpoenaing Ms. Stewart to appear before our committee,” Johnson told the Daily News.