WASHINGTON -- Seemingly contradictory accounts of Martha Stewart's sale of ImClone stock and actions by a widening circle of her acquaintances are drawing the attention of congressional investigators.
The latest is a doctor who also sold shares of the biotech company shortly before the government announced it had rejected ImClone's approval application for the cancer drug Erbitux.
Stewart, who commands a multimedia empire and a profitable corporation, increasingly is under the glare of government scrutiny and tabloid attention -- bringing investor displeasure. Shares of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, plunged 21.4 percent to finish at $12.55 Monday as questions about her ImClone stock sale continued to swirl. Omnimedia stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, of which Stewart recently became a director.
Shares of Stewart's company have been battered since June 6 -- they were trading at around $19 then -- when reports surfaced of the congressional investigation of her ImClone stock sale.
Stewart, in her weekly appearance on CBS' "The Early Show," said Tuesday: "I think this will all be resolved in the very near future and I will be exonerated."
Chopping cabbage for a potluck salad, she declined to discuss specifics, noting, "I'm involved in an investigation that has very serious implications."
What Stewart, herself a former stock broker, and her now-suspended Merrill Lynch broker have said about the ImClone stock sale apparently clashes with the account of the broker's assistant.
Investigators with the House Energy and Commerce Committee are examining whether Stewart had inside information when she sold nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone on Dec. 27, a day before the announcement that the Food and Drug Administration had decided not to consider Erbitux, an experimental drug for combating colorectal cancer.
Stewart has said repeatedly that her trade was legal and based on information available to the public at the time.
On the Net:
House Energy and Commerce Committee: http://energycommerce.house.gov
Stewart company: http://www.marthastewart.com
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