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Insider Case: Allegations Within the Allegations

September 06, 2002

Re "What a Difference a Few Dots Make in Investigations," Commentary, Sept. 3: A funny thing happened on Victor Gold's way to the article that he was writing about Martha Stewart's insider-trading troubles. Gold decided to take a detour in order to make some loosely connected allegations that in the 1950s Robert Kennedy, in his role as counsel on the congressional rackets committee, pursued the Teamsters' Jimmy Hoffa but went easy on UAW President Walter Reuther because Reuther was a Kennedy political supporter.

The rackets committee did investigate Reuther, the UAW and the UAW strike against the Kohler plumbing supply company, and Reuther did testify before it in March 1958. The committee, however, did not uncover anything that wasn't part of the National Labor Relations Board's investigation already. The NLRB, according to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., found the Kohler company guilty of unfair labor practices.

Why does Gold veer off the road to put a little spin on this old story? Well, let's connect our own dots: Gold was Sen. Barry Goldwater's press secretary (some years after the UAW investigation). Goldwater, who once described Reuther as the "leader of Soviet America, more dangerous than Sputnik," had insisted that the committee investigate Reuther, even though Kennedy thought it unnecessary. In the end, Goldwater is reported to have said to Kennedy: "You were right. We never should have gotten into this matter."

Steven E. Clark

Pasadena

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"Fill in the dots, complete the picture," Gold cryptically advises, and then the insidious, evil hand of the GOP will come into focus not only as Stewart's tormentor but even as the real culprit in the insider trading scheme that has enveloped her. Eliot Ness style, he puts forth Public Enemy "dot" No. 1: "When a public official [FDA official Richard Pazdur] ... provides information to a private company [Bristol-Myers] before that information is made public, what responsibility does the public official have for the stock-market scandal that follows?"

Are we now going to say that individuals who commit crimes may be exculpated if information obtained from a government official made their commission personally irresistible? Perhaps Stewart is untouchable, but this defense is a laugher.

Brian L. Buckley

Los Angeles

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