An in-depth article in Sunday's Los Angeles Times examined the relationship between the gala political fundraiser held at Stan Lee's home for Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign and the collapse of Stan Lee Media shortly thereafter. According to the article, the fundraiser, which cost approximately $2 million to stage but raised only $1 million for the campaign, figured prominently in both the collapse and the subsequent legal problems of Stan Lee Media executives. That's because the money for the fundraiser came largely from Merrill Lynch margin accounts secured by Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter Paul's stock in the company. The borrowing was in excess of the limit placed on borrowing against the stock, and when Merrill froze activity in the accounts in November of 2000, checks started bouncing, rumors that Stan Lee Media was out of cash began to spread, the stock price began to spiral downward, and a $40 million financing deal for the company collapsed, leading to the company's demise (see 'Stan Lee Media Tanks').
Among those facing legal problems related to the events are former Stan Lee Media executive Stephen Gordon, who was convicted in what was termed a 'check-kiting' scheme and faces sentencing August 4th (he plans to appeal); two others convicted with Gordon; Peter Paul, who awaits extradition in a Brazilian jail; and fundraiser Aaron Tonken, charged with mail fraud for charitable promotions unrelated to the event but now being investigated for his political fundraising, according to the article.
Stan Lee, of course, was not involved in the financial shenanigans and continues his publicity work on behalf of Marvel and media and entertainment ventures through his Pow! Entertainment. Most recently, Pow! is partnering with Playboy to develop Hef's Superbunnies, a cartoon TV series that will feature Hugh Hefner leading teams of Superbunnies to fight injustice.