herbalife-logoThe following excerpt from a recent New York Post article pretty much says it all:

Hollywood heavyweight Michael Lynton waded into the long-running Bill Ackman-Herbalife battle last year (by) helping the CEO of the nutritional-shake maker try to stop a looming regulatory probe.

Michael Johnson, the CEO of Herbalife, reached out in an e-mail to his pal Lynton, the CEO of Sony Entertainment, to help short-circuit an attempt by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to have the Federal Trade Commission investigate the company.

Ugh, I feel infected by Herbalife’s PR sleaze just from reading it…

Lynton helped Johnson by introducing him to Joe O’Donnell,

a Lynton pal and Republican businessman from Massachusetts once described as the most powerful person in Boston for his ties to President George W. Bush.

Noting that Ackman can “scare almost anyone,” Johnson thanked Lynton for his help.

“Saying thank you is not enough for your introduction to Joe,” Johnson e-mailed Lynton Jan. 27, 2014.

What exactly Joe O’Donnell and the CEO of Herbalife got up to is not known, but ultimately an FTC investigation into Herbalife was confirmed two months later in March.

A year earlier the FTC had branded Herbalife’s business practices as “disturbing“.

What irks me about this particular story is that, instead of releasing their retail sales figures and revenue, which would instantly clear their name both from a regulatory and public standpoint, this is what Herbalife have been up to.

Thankfully Johnson’s attempts to lobby his way out of a regulatory investigation failed, otherwise what a farce that would have been.

Meanwhile, refusing to make public Herbalife’s retail sales data, one can only speculate as to why Johnson was so desperate to head off an FTC investigation to begin with.

I wonder what he thought they’d find…