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The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun an informal investigation into the blogging habits of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who, it came to light last week, used an online alias in chat rooms for eight years to plug his own company’s stock and belittle the operations of his rival, Wild Oats – the very company that Whole Foods currently is trying to acquire.

“While it isn't clear that Mr. Mackey violated any laws in his postings, they have raised numerous legal questions,” the Journal writes. “The SEC is likely to examine whether Mr. Mackey's comments contradicted what the company previously said, or if they were overly optimistic about the firm's performance. In addition, the SEC will likely look at whether the CEO selectively disclosed material corporate information – that could violate a securities law passed in 2000 known as Regulation Fair Disclosure, which was designed to prevent executives from sharing information with favored clients or analysts.”

Mackey, who did not speak to the Journal for this story, has been saying that the blogging controversy is much ado about nothing, and only has been turned into an issue by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is trying to block the Wild Oats acquisition on competitive grounds.
KC's View:
While Mackey may be the brains, heart and soul behind Whole Foods, the company is bigger than him…and I’m beginning to think, based on what I’m reading, that the board may be forced to move him out of his CEO job in order to weather the current storm. At the very least, he is a loose cannon…and I have this feeling that the consummation of the Wild Oats merger could be the least of his challenges right now.