If it's not the laws trying to publicize his assets, it's a gossip journalist trying to blackmail him. The New York Post says that a freelancer on its Page Six gossip column is under FBI investigation for trying to extort money from politically active Beverly Hills grocery magnate Ron Burkle.
Jared Paul Stern, who worked two days per week on Page Six, allegedly demanded $100,000 from Burkle, who made his fortune in supermarkets, plus an annual stipend of $10,000....In exchange for money from Burkle, Stern allegedly would "refrain from writing damaging, negative stories, and write puff pieces" flattering to Burkle.
The Post's editor-in-chief, Col Allan, issued a statement: "Jared Paul Stern is a freelance reporter who sometimes worked two days a week at the New York Post. He has been suspended pending the outcome of the federal investigation. Should the allegations prove true, Mr. Stern's conduct would be morally and journalistically reprehensible, a gross abuse of privilege, and in violation of the New York Post's standards and ethics."
Meanwhile, the "Burkle Cover-Up Bill," as its known in headlines, moved forward in Sacramento this week. State Sen. Kevin Murray of Los Angeles is carrying the bill to restrict public access to court records in divorce cases. He says it has (cough) nothing to do with Burkle, who wants to keep his financials out of the public eye. But the billionaire's ex-wife has joined the opposition. A previous bill passed but was challenged in court by the L.A. Times and Associated Press.
* Better story: Much better, in the New York Daily News. Juicy details of Stern's offer to protect Burkle from bad items on Page Six and the subsequent sting to catch him, as well as Stern's website and t-shirt line. Money quote from Stern: "It's a little like the Mafia. A friend of mine is a friend of yours." Burkle's spokesman is Michael Sitrick.