- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Martha Stewart, who yesterday submitted records to a congressional committee investigating her sale of ImClone stock, is a top campaign contributor who has given nearly a half-million dollars almost exclusively to Democratic causes since 1998.
House Energy and Commerce Committee investigators are probing whether Mrs. Stewart, the chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., lied about her Dec. 27 sale of 3,928 ImClone shares one day before adverse news sent the stock plummeting. They are also investigating ImClone's former chief executive, Sam Waksal.
Because the two principals in the burgeoning ImClone scandal are benefactors of the Democratic Party, some Democratic operatives question whether the investigation by the Republican-led committee is politically motivated. Democrats have waged a campaign to tie Republicans to business and have portrayed their own party as the best at preventing and policing corporate scandals.
Republicans reject the argument that they are singling out Mrs. Stewart for political gain.
"We're not out to get her. We're simply out to get the truth," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which made its mark earlier this year leading Congress' investigation into Enron Corp.
So far in the 2002 campaign cycle, Mrs. Stewart has donated $173,665 to Democrats personally or through her company, putting her among the top 100 contributors to either party, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which describes her as "solidly Democratic."
Among the Democratic luminaries Mrs. Stewart has contributed to are former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, and Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey.
On June 27 of last year, Mrs. Stewart provided $116,500 in "soft money" contributions to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to the center. "Soft money" contributions will be banned under campaign finance reform law that takes effect after the November elections.
Mrs. Stewart's company is the top contributor among publishers of books, newspapers and magazines so far in the 2002 cycle. In the 2000 campaign cycle, Mrs. Stewart's company gave $203,765 to Democratic candidates and committees, and in 1998 it gave $78,450.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee said the committee does not intend to return the contributions.
Mr. Waksal also is a donor to Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the past year, he gave $5,000 to the Democratic Committee of New York State; $5,000 to the political action committee of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat; $1,000 to Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat; and $1,000 to Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, who is heading the Senate's investigation of corporate scandals.
Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, in June returned a $1,000 contribution he received from Mr. Waksal in January. None of Mr. Waksal's or Mrs. Stewart's contributions went to Republicans, according to the nonpartisan center.
Investigators say Mrs. Stewart's account contradicts statements made by her Merrill Lynch & Co. broker and his assistant. The committee is considering subpoenaing Mrs. Stewart to testify. She has refused to appear voluntarily.
The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission also are investigating the home-decor executive's stock sale.
Mrs. Stewart says the sale was not triggered by inside information about ImClone Systems Inc., but by an order she gave her broker to sell when the stock dropped below $60.
Mr. Johnson said the committee's focus on Mrs. Stewart, a former stockbroker, began earlier this year when it uncovered ImClone phone records showing she called her friend and ImClone's then-CEO, Mr. Waksal, shortly after conferring with her broker on Dec. 27, to find out "what's up with ImClone."
The broker already had sold ImClone shares for Mr. Waksal's daughter. Mr. Waksal was arrested in June on charges that he provided inside information to his daughter and other relatives about an impending government rejection of ImClone's cancer-drug application on Dec. 28. He also is charged with obstruction of justice, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit perjury.
Terry McAuliffe, Democratic National Committee chairman, made headlines earlier this month when he questioned whether President Bush was qualified to lead the attack against corporate greed because of his past business connections.
"How can he restore confidence on Wall Street when he has engaged in the same practices he condemns today?" Mr. McAuliffe asked in a fiery speech at a Democratic conference in Las Vegas.
Mr. McAuliffe's lucrative sale of Global Crossing Ltd. stock months before the company imploded in scandal and bankruptcy has raised eyebrows. He made $18 million off his $100,000 initial investment in the stock.
Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, said the Democrats' efforts to gain advantage on the corporate scandal issue are "preposterous" and are not succeeding.
"They have no credibility on this issue. The American people probably find it laughable when they see Democrats piously looking into the camera on this issue," he said.


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