Fox's Charles Payne responded to a Media Matters inquiry about his recent paid promotions for company stocks by declining comment on all but one question. Payne, or his firm, also appears to have scrubbed a webpage on his company's website connecting him to one of the company stocks in question.
Media Matters reported earlier today that Payne, a contributor and frequent guest host for Fox News and Fox Business, was compensated to promote the now worthless stocks of three companies (Brainy Brands, NXT Nutritionals, and Generex) since joining Fox. The practice of compensated stock endorsements is currently prohibited by Fox rules, and resulted in the recent contract termination of contributor Tobin Smith.
Payne responded to a Media Matters inquiry by declining to comment except for one question. Media Matters had asked Payne:
1) How many times has Payne, or his firm, received compensation to promote the stock of a company since October 2007?
2) How much did Payne, or his firm, receive to promote Brainy Brands Company, NXT, and Generex?
3) All three companies' stock prices appear to be virtually worthless now. Do you have any comment on how these stocks have fared given Payne's forecast?
4) Can you confirm that Payne was involved in setting up the websites Afterthecrashwinners.com, Investafterthecrash.com, and Postcrashgains.com?
5) MarketWatch reported that Fox rules state "no Contributor to FBN, nor his/her firm, and/or family members are allowed to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities." Did Payne's compensation to promote the stocks of Brainy Brands, NXT, and Generex violate this policy?
6) In 1999, Payne reached a settlement with the SEC to settle a claim without confirming or denying wrongdoings. Is Fox aware of the SEC settlement?
Payne responded this afternoon: "Never heard of any of the websites your [sic] mentioned and only affiliated with www.wstreet.com. There are no other comments to you or your organization."
A webpage on Payne's Wall Street Strategies site -- housed at www.wstreet.com/brainybrands/default.asp -- previously advertised an offer for "Charles Payne's FREE 10-day Bonus Report--Spotlight on a Winner: How Brainy Brands Is Poised to Take Over the Multibillion-Dollar Early Education Industry (a $19 value)." Media Matters linked to the webpage in its original report, and the URL was functioning prior to posting. Now, however, the URL redirects to www.wstreet.com/signup/newsletter.asp, which doesn't contain any mention of Brainy Brands. The original page is still accessible via Google Cache and is screenshotted here (see a Google search for the site here). The page carried a 2011 copyright date.
Media Matters wrote in its original article of the three websites referenced in the inquiry and by Payne:
In addition to his sponsored research report, a Payne-authored pitch for NXT appeared on at least three separate websites: Afterthecrashwinners.com, Investafterthecrash.com, and Postcrashgains.com. The websites are now offline, but the Internet Archive cached the sites starting in 2009. The websites carried a 2013 copyright.
Media Matters had asked for clarification about the websites because they were attributed to Payne on the original sites, and were linked to Payne on several penny stock-related websites. For example:
- A mailer posted on thestockadvisor.com has a message stating it was authored by Payne and directing people to www.AfterTheCrashWinners.com: "To take advantage of this special offer--or to learn more--please go towww.AfterTheCrashWinners.com."
- A document posted on DocStoc.com includes an image of an advertisement credited to Charles Payne's Common Sense Newsletter with the URL: www.investafterthecrash.com:
- A penny stock blogger criticized Payne for his apparent association with postcrashgains.com in 2009.
Regardless of whether he is aware of those websites, Payne was still paid to promote NXT's stock. A July 24, 2009, press release by NXT stated: "Charles Payne has been paid $25,000 by a third party for this Research Report on NXT Nutritionals Holdings, Inc."