Rahodeb died last summer, but the ghost is still haunting Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI ) CEO John Mackey. The SEC is conducting an inquiry into Mackey's posts on the Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) Finance discussion boards.
You probably know all about Mackey's misguided message-board musings. Taking on the pseudonym of Rahodeb -- an anagram of his wife Deborah's name -- Mackey posted nearly 1,400 messages on the Yahoo! stock boards talking about Whole Foods and Wild Oats (Nasdaq: OATS ) from 1999 until he left in the summer of 2006.
Passionate investors populate discussion boards. CEOs often pop in. However, Mackey's approach -- engaging fellow discussion-board participants without revealing his true identity -- now has the SEC scouring through his postings to weigh his every word.
The typically chatty Mackey is now gagged. The blog he runs on his company's website has been taken down, temporarily. With both an SEC probe and an internal investigation now underway, it's in Mackey's best interest to keep his voice down.
He did apologize last night.
"I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards," reads a brief statement from Mackey that was issued last night. "I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me."
For his sake, let's hope the SEC finds it in its heart to forgive him, too.
Isn't it ironic, though? A chain that prides itself on organic groceries gets tripped up by something artificially seasoned.
Rahodeb's other movie roles:
- Rotten Behavior at Whole Foods
- Fool Video: David Gardner on Mackey's Hidden Message
- A Fool Looks Back
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't mind soy milk and veggie burgers -- in moderation. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.