Whopper of the Week: William Webster.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Nov. 8 2002 4:15 PM

Whopper of the Week: William Webster

Hell hath no fury like an accountant scorned.

"Mr. Webster headed the audit committee of U.S. Technologies Inc. in [August] 2001 when it fired its longtime auditor, BDO Seidman LLP. The auditing firm has said it told the company's audit committee about serious defects in U.S. Technologies' financial reporting and internal financial controls. … Mr. Webster has steadfastly denied that BDO Seidman raised those concerns before it was dismissed[italics Chatterbox's]. … Instead, he has said that the audit committee fired BDO Seidman because the auditor was too expensive and moved too slowly.

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"'The inference is that we replaced the auditor because they were issuing warnings. That's totally incorrect—we just couldn't afford them,' Mr. Webster said in a recent interview."

Yochi J. Dreazen and Michael Schroeder,"Webster May Face Increased Pressure To Quit New Board," in the Nov. 8 Wall Street Journal.As noted in last week's Whopper,members of the Securities and Exchange Commission hit the roof when they learned that SEC chairman Harvey Pitt had failed to inform them about this incident before they approved Judge Webster as head of their new oversight accounting panel. Pitt resigned over the matter on Nov. 5.

"The firm made available sections of a packet that it said had been sent to Mr. Webster and the other members of the U.S. Technologies audit committee prior to [its dismissal] that cited 'material weaknesses in internal controls' at the company. The deficiencies included the lack of a full-time chief financial officer and an inability to record transactions on a timely basis.

 […]

"BDO Seidman … also released notes taken during [a July 13] conference call by an auditor named David Parker. The notes indicate that another auditor, Jeff Bland, discussed the firm's management recommendations and that Mr. Webster was present for the call."

Ibid.

Got a whopper? Send it to chatterbox@slate.com. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
Nov. 1, 2002: Harvey Pitt
Oct. 25, 2002: George W. Bush
Oct. 18, 2002: North Korea
Oct. 11, 2002: Michael Bloomberg
Sept. 27, 2002: Rep. Tom Tancredo
Sept. 13, 2002: Al-Muhajiroun
Sept. 6, 2002: National Republican Congressional Committee
Aug. 29, 2002: Eddie Joe Lloyd
Aug. 22, 2002: Larry Klayman
Aug. 2, 2002: Al Gore
July 26, 2002: Princeton admissions dean Stephen LeMenager
July 19, 2002: James Traficant
July 12, 2002: Maryland Lt. Gov. candidate Michael S. Steele
July 5, 2002: Hesham Mohamed Hadayet
June 28, 2002: WorldCom
June 21, 2002: Terry Lynn Barton
June 14, 2002: Tom Ridge
June 7, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy
May 31, 2002: Ari Fleischer
May 23, 2002: Condoleezza Rice
May 17, 2002: Robert Mueller
May 9, 2002: Karl Rove
May 3, 2002: Gen. Richard Myers
April 25, 2002: Donald Rumsfeld
April 18, 2002: George W. Bush  
April 11, 2002: The Rev. Robert J. Banks, archdiocese of Boston
April 5, 2002: George W. Bush  
March 29, 2002: Major League Baseball
March 21, 2002: Billy Graham
March 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
March 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb. 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press

(Click  here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)