Ashton Kutcher Could Face F.T.C. Investigation
The actor failed to disclose his investments in companies he profiled while acting as guest-editor of a magazine.
Ashton Kutcher has had a dramatic summer.
The actor made waves for his casting as Charlie Sheen's replacement on Two and A Half Men, and now Kutcher could potentially be in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission.
While acting as guest editor for the online-version of Details magazine, he failed to disclose his own investments in Internet companies that were profiled in the mag's special technology-focused installment, called "The Social Issue."
Kutcher, is an investor in many online-properties, including, Foursquare, Flipboard, Fashism, Blekko, Tinychat, SeatGeek and Airbnb (among others), all of which were highlighted in the issue.
"If you’re out there promoting individual products that you have a specific investment in, it needs to be disclosed,” Richard Cleland, assistant director of the F.T.C.'s advertising practices division, told the New York Times. “If you have a significant economic investment that is not otherwise apparent, that may potentially affect the credibility of your endorsement, and I see that as a potential problem.”
No formal investigation has been called for as of yet, but Cleland said "It's certainly a possibility that a case like this could be investigated."
Mr. Kutcher's production company did not respond to requests by the paper for comment.
Details editor in chief Dan Peres told the Times in a statement "I stand by how we communicated Ashton’s involvement with some of the companies included in our coverage and remain extremely proud of the work we did on this project.”
The only time Kutcher's investments are addressed in the issue is through a line in the introduction saying the actor "puts his money where his mouth is, backing many of the companies he champions here."
The Times also notes that the actor faces a potential problem with the Securities and Exchange Commission if he knew the companies being profiled had plans to raise money in the near future through an initial stock offering. Under S.E.C. rules, he would not have been allowed to discuss those companies.