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Ashton Kutcher Could Face Federal Probe

'Guest editor' actor invested in companies touted by Details ; who knew?

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 19, 2011 3:17 AM CDT | Updated Aug 19, 2011 5:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – A guest editorship may land Ashton Kutcher in trouble with the feds. An online-only "Social Issue" of Details touted several tech start-ups and failed to clearly note that guest editor Kutcher is an investor in several of them, discovered Gawker. He may have even run afoul of the law. "If you’re out there promoting individual products that you have a specific investment in, it needs to be disclosed,” Richard Cleland, assistant director of advertising practices at the FTC, tells the New York Times. “If you have a significant economic investment that is not otherwise apparent, that may potentially affect the credibility of your endorsement, and I see that as a potential problem.”

Cleland didn't say definitively that Kutcher would be questioned but said it's "certainly a possibility that a case like this could be investigated." Kutcher representatives had no immediate comment. But Details (regular) editor Dan Peres said: "I stand by how we communicated Ashton’s involvement with some of the companies in our coverage, and remain extremely proud of the work we did.” Details noted in the introduction to the issue only that Kutcher "puts his money where his mouth is, backing many of the companies he champions here." Kutcher may also have run afoul of an SEC regulation requiring a "quiet period" from investors who may know about a company's pending initial stock offering.

Ashton Kutcher wears a creation from the Colcci collection at the Sao Paulo Fashion Week early this summer.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2011 file photo, actor Ashton Kutcher attends a special screening of "No Strings Attached" in New York. Kutcher will play "an Internet billionaire with a broken heart" when he...   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
Actor Ashton Kutcher, right, and Colcci stylist Jeziel Moraes embrace during the Colcci show at the Sao Paulo Fashion Week, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday Jan. 30, 2011.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Actor Ashton Kutcher wears a creation by Colcci during the Sao Paulo Fashion Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday Jan. 30, 2011.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Cast member Ashton Kutcher, left, and Demi Moore arrive at the premiere "No Strings Attached" in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
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