This is silly

Glenn Beck, Who Doesn’t Hesitate to Point Out Other People’s Tax Problems, Had Some of His Own

glenn-beck.jpgSince he’s such a passionate guy, Glenn Beck will not hesitate to call someone out if he feels that they are cheating the American people. He’s a crusader for justice, after all.
For example, Tim Geithner, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Tom Daschle, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and others were all called “tax cheats” by GB early last year and he also mentioned that he wouldn’t entrust his children to them (nice touch).
So it’s more than a little awkward for Becks when Politico reports that Mercury Radio Arts, his production company, has had some of its own tax troubles:

Mercury, a private corporation that lists Beck as chief executive officer and his wife, Tania Beck, alternately as vice president or secretary, since 2007 has fallen behind on its New York City business income taxes and has been cited for filing errors related to its obligations under Texas franchise tax and New York state workers’ compensation insurance rules.

Politico reports that the company owed just over $25k in back taxes and penalties but since everything has been cleared up it’s NBD. However, we do seem to have a little bit of a pot and kettle situation. What’s even more stupid is that everyone is all bent out of shape over these people screwing up their taxes even though no one was willfully trying to dodge the tax law:

Dean Zerbe, national managing director for a company called alliantgroup that provides specialty tax services to accounting firms, said Beck’s situation “has the look and feel of somebody who is confronting an extraordinarily complicated tax situation — or at least the people he’s hired to do these things are — and is trying to comply but isn’t doing everything perfectly.”
The same, however, could be said of most of the Obama nominees Beck has blasted for tax problems, said Zerbe, who called them “people who were trying to comply with the spirit and the intent of the law.”

As it has been mentioned, our tax system is complicated and that’s putting it lightly. The fact that all these people made mistakes doesn’t go so much to anything about them as Americans as it does the tax system being a giant shitshow. So if that is indeed the case, does this mean that all this name calling and finger pointing is politically motivated? GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.
What if it’s Beck with a tax ‘accident’? [Politico]

Is Patrick Byrne’s Facebook Friends List Motivated by a Farmville Obsession?

Thumbnail image for farmvillePat.jpgWe haven’t really touched on the Patrick Byrne’s ill-fated attempt to stalk his critics (and all their friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers) mostly because we weren’t on the list and those that were (including Gary Weiss, Sam Antar, Joe Wiesenthal, and Barry Ritholtz) are doing a fine job of pointing out how desperate, shady, and just plain fucking bad this makes Patsy, his head minion at DeepCapture Judd Bagley, and Overstock look.
We only bring it up now because we’d like to point out that it’s worth speculating on the other side of this story. Our contention is that P. Byrne, being of questionable mind and maturity, is OBSESSED with Farmville and it is his personal mission to destroy the Farmvilles of his critics and their FB friends (now who’s movin’ up in Farmville, bitches?).
This agonizing torture method will eventually wear down the haters to the point to where no one will be able to take the man, his doomed-to-fail quest to locate an auditor, and his company seriously and will thus give up their quest of destroying him.
The only other thing we can come up with is that he has an intense hatred of trite status updates and was going to expose everyone for their lack of substantive commentary but we find all his critics to be interesting bloggers, so we tossed that theory.
Grant Thornton and PwC have got to feel pret-tay good about how this all turned out. If you’ve got you own theories or thoughts on this situation, feel free to discuss them here.

Patrick Byrne May Say Something That Will Antagonize You

Thumbnail image for patsy_byrne.jpgThe Patrick Byrne Express (via Segway, natch) pulled over from its nationwide auditor search to pen the latest triumph in his quest to refute every Overstock/Patrick Byrne hater on the planet.
Patsy’s latest letter informs us of the settlement that Overstock has reached with Rocker Partners, one of those short-selling hedge fund haters, for $5 million.
His masterpiece opens with “The good guys won” and then rambles on to tell us how he feels about pretty much everyone in financial media. And that’s what this was really all about. It wasn’t about the money, you fools. This was about exposing the anti-Overstock/Patrick Byrne contingent:

What is of vastly greater significance than this $5 million payment, however, is an examination of the cover-up conducted by elements of the New York financial press. Taking the lead was CNBC, which spent a great deal of airtime downplaying the significance of this suit, vilifying me, and smearing Overstock.

Apparently, this is just the beginning. Prime brokers, sounds like you’re next.
And just so you know, PB and his company don’t give a damn if you, the SEC, or anyone else for that matter gets bent out of shape about them spreading the truth. As Floyd Norris rehashes some of the trubs going on in casa de Overstock, he notes this little treasure from the company’s unreviewed 10-Q:

Public statements we or our chief executive officer, Patrick M. Byrne, have made or may make in the future may antagonize regulatory officials or others.
We and our chief executive officer, Patrick M. Byrne, have from time to time made public statements regarding our or his beliefs about matters of public interest, including statements regarding naked short selling. Some of those public statements have been critical of the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory agencies. These public statements may have consequences for us, whether as a result of increased regulatory scrutiny or otherwise.

Sounds like fighting words to us. Go ahead and bring it, SEC. Patrick Byrne will be waiting.
Overstock Claims Victory [Floyd Norris/NYT]

Patrick Byrne: Noooo, Grant Thornton, You’re Lying

Thumbnail image for patsy_byrne.jpgOkay you guys, this Overstock.com/Grant Thornton cat fight is getting real mature.
Your humble servant Patrick Byrne has responded to Grant Thornton’s letter stating, in no uncertain terms that he is a L – I – A – R by saying, “I know you are but whatami? I know you are but whatami? I know you are but whatami?”
In the latest OSTK press release, Patsy lists nine points of contention that he has with Grant Thornton’s letter to the SEC which started all this “You’re a liar!” business. We’ve presented some of our favorite moments after the jump for your enjoyment (all emphasis is ours):

4. Grant Thornton Letter: “Further, paragraph 4 references a report on the Company’s consolidated financial statements for the year ending December 31, 2009. As we have not performed an audit of the Company’s financial statements for any period, this reference is incorrect.”
We know that Grant Thornton never performed an audit of our 2009 financial statements and, again, we never said otherwise: as it is currently November, 2009, our 2009 financial statements do not exist. The SEC requirement is that we disclose what Grant Thornton would have disagreed with had it performed what our audit committee engaged them to do – an audit of our 2009 financial statements. We complied with the SEC requirement. I’m not sure what Grant Thornton expected us to say in prefacing the explanation of our disagreements with Grant Thornton.

6. Grant Thornton Letter: “We disagree with the Company’s statement in paragraph 7 ‘that upon further consultation and review within the firm, Grant Thornton revised its earlier position’ regarding the previously filed 2009 interim financial statements. This statement is not accurate. The Company brought the overpayment to a fulfillment partner to Grant Thornton’s attention in October. After additional discussions with the Company, the predecessor auditor and receipt of additional documentation from the Company we determined that the Company’s position as to the accounting treatment for the overpayment to a fulfillment partner was in error.”
This is a falsehood. On several occasions Grant Thornton discussed with and provided guidance on the accounting for the $785,000 fulfillment partner overpayment during and prior to October…
7. Grant Thornton Letter: “Further the Company’s statement does not address the fact that the consultation noted in paragraph 5 was in relation to the ongoing incomplete review of the September 30, 2009 interim financial statements.”
This is a curious statement given that on October 30 Grant Thornton sent a final report dated November 5 (for a November 6 audit committee meeting) to our audit committee stating that “[w]e have concluded our review of the most recent interim quarter. Our review procedures identified certain immaterial differences,” all of which “are currently being addressed by management or will naturally be corrected by year-end.” These immaterial differences amounted to a net $35,000 for the first nine months of 2009.
8. Grant Thornton Letter: “We have also read Item 4.02 of Form 8-K of Overstock.com, Inc. (‘the Company’) dated November 16, 2009 and disagree with the statements concerning our Firm contained therein. During the course of our incomplete review of the Company’s September 30, 2009 financial statements, we advised the Company that disclosure should be made to prevent future reliance on its March 31, 2009 and June 30, 2009 financial statements. We advised the company [sic] to make the disclosure because we became aware that material modifications should be made to the previously filed 2009 interim financial statements to conform with US GAAP.”
This is incorrect. As noted above, on October 30, Grant Thornton sent a report to our audit committee stating that “[w]e have concluded our review of the most recent interim quarter,” and nowhere in its October 30 report is there any advice from Grant Thornton that we should make disclosure to prevent future reliance on our Q1 or Q2 2009 financial statements. Such an omission from such a report seems conclusive of the fact that this was not an issue until our audit committee dismissed Grant Thornton. In addition, on November 13 – after our audit committee dismissed Grant Thornton – our Senior Vice President, Finance specifically asked Mr. Haycock (the managing partner of the Grant Thornton Salt Lake office) whether Grant Thornton had communicated to our audit committee that we should take actions or make disclosures concerning our Q1 and Q2 2009 financial statements, and we noted that any such communications would trigger a Form 8-K filing requirement for us. Mr. Haycock answered that Grant Thornton had not made any such communications. Grant Thornton only gave us such advice later on November 13 in a letter to the chairwoman of our audit committee.

Byrne wraps it up this way, naturally:

As I said in my November 16 letter, our finance and legal teams continue to work with the SEC on the issues addressed in its comment letters, and once these issues are resolved (and we have engaged another independent audit firm), we will file a reviewed Q3 Form 10-Q/A.
Your humble servant,
Patrick M. Byrne

Oh yeah, did we mention they’re still looking for an auditor? Shockingly, there are still no takers.
The final numbers from our poll show that KPMG is the winner of auditor most likely to be fired next by Overstock.com. We’re still waiting to hear who’s actually entertaining the idea of sabotaging their own firm with this little treat of a company. Stay tuned.
GC Coverage of Overstock.com/Grant Thornton:
Grant Thornton: Patrick Byrne’s Pants Are on Fire
Overstock.com Receives Delisting Notice, Really, Really, Really Needs an Auditor
Overstock.com Fires Grant Thornton, Files Unreviewed 10-Q, CEO Remains Humble
Also see: Overstock: Actually, Grant Thornton Is Lying [Silicon Alley Insider]

Overstock.com Fires Grant Thornton, Files Unreviewed 10-Q, CEO Remains Humble

patrick_byrne.jpgThere’s really nothing better than an eccentric CEO throwing caution to the wind, consequences be damned.
Insert Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com (“OSTK”). He issued a letter via press release yesterday that has many people’s attention.
Byrne opens the letter by quoting Nietzsche:
“All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”


Tragic enough but then Byrne really amps it up, droning on for eleven points about his company’s dire situation. Here’s the gist*:
• The difficult accounting treatment of an overpayment received by OSTK from a “partner”.
• Putting the audit out to bid after “eight years of fine service” from P. Dubs, and hiring GT because “my belief that changing auditors every decade or so might be healthy.”
• SEC inquiries into the accounting treatment of the overpayment.
• GT changing their minds on the accounting treament after said inquiries.
• We’re filing an unreviewed 10-Q, P. Dubs is on board for our treatment, GT is fired, anyone (and I mean anyone) want to audit us?
Byrne spends no less than six paragraphs/points explaining GT’s wishy-washy, bending-over-for-the-SEC ways. The man is nothing if not thorough.
Spineless auditors notwithstanding, Byrne will press on, the company will overcome, and he will remain committed to you, Overstock.com shareholder:

I will hold a conference call to further explain and answer questions regarding this matter on Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. EST (details below). Until then, I remain,
Your humble servant,
Patrick M. Byrne

10-Q [SEC.gov]
8-K: Dismissal of Grant Thornton [SEC.gov]
Press Release [SEC.gov]
*If you want to debate the particulars, be my guest but this isn’t the Journal of Accountancy, feel me?

Deloitte: Your Source for Decision 2010

Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgElection Day isn’t even over and while most of you probably don’t feel bad about not going to the polls, Deloitte is already getting you amped for next year’s state gubernatorial elections:

[The] 2010 election cycles are shaping up some of the most consequential state elections in decades. Many of the nation’s largest states, from California to Pennsylvania to Florida, will see new governors in 2011. All in all, there will be at least 17 open races for governor, the most in years. Control of state legislatures is also expected to be highly competitive.

Because you can never get started too early on diving into dense policy issues, Deloitte lists seven “featured insights” that will be crucial in “regain[ing] the public’s trust” in 2010. Wow, this firm is looking out for you or what? Thanks Deloitte! You’re better than Fox News!
And just in case you didn’t think Deloitte was serious about getting you informed about the issues, the 2010 site is introduced by none other than Tom Ridge, who — unbeknownst to us — is a Senior Advisor to Deloitte.
One would think that it would be impossible for us to be saturated by election coverage for next year prior to it even starting. BY AN ACCOUNTING FIRM. Deloitte, you’ve outdone yourself.
2010 Gubernatorial Elections [Deloitte]