Ben Stein's New York Times column axed

Stein violated ethics guidelines with credit report ads

NEW YORK -- Ben Stein, whose career has spanned everything from White House speechwriter to teen film cameo actor, has lost his Sunday New York Times business column after he appeared in ads for a company offering credit reports.

The Huffington Post reported Friday that Stein was bounced for violating ethics guidelines -- citing his involvement with, a company Reuters' Felix Salmon described as "a sleazy company which exists only to extract large sums of money from those who can least afford it."

"Stein was pilloried online for his endorsement of the bait-and-switch operation, which offers a free credit score but charges an outrageous $30 per month to see the credit report behind the score," according to the Huffington Post. "As Reuters blogger Felix Salmon pointed out, consumers can get a free online report under federal law."

The Times issued a statement to Huffington Post declaring, "Ben Stein's fine work for us as a columnist for Sunday Business had to end, we told him, after we learned that he had become a commercial spokesman for FreeScore, a financial services company. Ben didn't understand when he signed on with FreeScore that this might pose a potential conflict for him as a contributing columnist for the Times, because he hadn't written about credit scores or this company. But, we decided that being a commercial spokesman for FreeScore while writing his column wouldn't be appropriate. We are sorry to lose him as a columnist, and appreciate his work for the Times over the years."