Thursday, July 23, 2009 Finds a New Way to Waste Money

Earlier today, I ran an item describing CEO Patrick Byrne's latest issuer retaliation gambit. Well folks, I just got an email from a p.r. person for Overstock. That was quick.

Threatening? Angry? Slimy? Not at all. Why, they were so darn nice that I have an awfully good idea that they didn't read my latest item and, in all likelihood, haven't a clue about the slimeballs that have hired them.

The email (a mass spam, of course) came from a p.r. firm called "Advocacy Ink." The subject header says: "INTERVIEW: praises Senators for demanding SEC action on naked shorts, calls SEC 'the Barney Fife' of regulators." The purpose is to see how many journos are as dumb as they are, and who may want to chat it up with Overstock's president Jonathan Johnson.

Why not the famously nutty CEO Patrick Byrne? Duhh.... you figure it out.

It reads in relevant part:
Dear producers and reporters:
Sens. Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) yesterday sent a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Shapiro. These senators are urging the SEC to stop abusive naked short selling.

...This is big news in the fight to stop naked short selling, which welcomes. Jonathan Johnson, President of commented that, “Overstock has been working to get the SEC...
Yadda yadda. He then uses the "Barney Fife" hyperbole, an outright metaphor-steal from Wall Street Versus America (page 13), but I forgive him because of its entertainment value. The SEC, of course, has given Overstock a free pass while it cooks the books and retaliates against critics, as I pointed out in my item earlier today.

The email ends, "Please let me know if I can schedule an interview for you with Mr. Johnson," and is signed by an Audrey Mullen. A month or so ago, Byrne had hired someone from Levine Communications in Los Angeles to send out emails to reporters comparing him to Wyatt Earp. I guess that metaphor didn't work out, so Byrne is trying a new one.

What gets me is what a terrific way this is to add to the shareholder deficit. Just hire somebody to send out a spam to everybody they've got on a media list. Reporters love spam emails, particularly on behalf of lowlifes.

I wonder what other media pals of this corporate crime petri dish also got an email from these geniuses. I also wonder if Advocacy Ink's other clients are getting such first class service.

Sourcewatch describes Advocacy Ink as "pro-corporate, anti-regulation, Republican, conservative, somewhat libertarian." Looking at the client list of authors, I see that the firm represents an anti-environmentalist book and several extolling the joys of conservatism. Judging from their superb work for Overstock so far, I'd say that environmentalists and liberals have nothing to worry about.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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