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According to the New York Times, San Diego golf hero Phil Mickelson is under investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission for a series of well-timed trades in the stock market. Gambler William T. Walters, a Las Vegas hero, considered one of the nation's best sports bettors, is also under investigation, as is billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, said the Times.

In one case, Mickelson and Walters made a trade in 2011 in the stock of Clorox, which Icahn was attempting to take over at the time. Authorities are examining whether Icahn leaked details of the bid to Walters. One theory is that Walters may have passed the information to Mickelson. Walters and Mickelson also placed similar trades in 2012 in the stock of Dean Foods. Walters claims he has never met or spoken to Mickelson.

Mickelson, one of the most successful and highest-earning pro athletes, is often rumored to be a swinging gambler on the links. However, some of these charges regularly making the rounds could be apocryphal.

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ImJustABill June 1, 2014 @ 7:34 a.m.

Unless the Feds have written or electronic evidence of the collusion isn't this sort of thing pretty difficult to prove? Even if the pattern of trades makes it obvious something funny was going on is that enough to prove insider trading?

Or does the SEC hope that maybe even if they can't prove insider trading they can catch someone in a lie somewhere (a la Martha Stewart)?

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Don Bauder June 1, 2014 @ 2:58 p.m.

ImJustABill: There have been some notable insider trading convictions in recent years. The SEC and criminal authorities are watching the trading patterns closely. This is good. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel June 1, 2014 @ 9:07 a.m.

A couple of observations. I would hardly call Phil Michelson an athlete. There are a few guys on the tour who are in good shape and who are obviously athletic, but Michelson is definitely not in that group. One of the most successful? Over the course of his career as a golfer , you could say he has been successful, though not so much the last five or so. But one of the most successful athletes? I would say not so much. In comparison with some of the most successful true athletes in other sports, again, not even close. And while he does make a lot of money, according to Forbes, only about 10% of his income actually comes from winnings, with the rest coming from endorsements. Granted, many "successful" make far more in endorsements than in actual earnings, think Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. But in Michelson's case, while Forbes ranks him as number 7 in total compensation, in winnings/salary he is close to the bottom of the list. I mean he barely makes more than a couple of the best cricket players in the world, for goodness sakes. One of the most successful and highest-earning pro golfers, yes, no doubt. One of the most successful and highest-earning pro athletes, I don't agree with that.

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Don Bauder June 1, 2014 @ 3:02 p.m.

danfogel: There are some who insist that golf is not athletics. I suppose many say that about pool, too. Poker definitely is not athletics. But golf takes a lot of athletic skill. So does ping pong. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 2, 2014 @ 5:48 a.m.

To danfogel: You neglect to mention that most of the high earners are under contract with the teams they play for and are awarded ridiculous sums of money. 16 of the top 20 on that list are football, baseball, basketball, soccer and cricket players (also 1 Formula One driver paid a handsome salary by Scuderia Ferrari). The other 5 are individual (no salary) sport players: 2 golfers, 1 tennis player, 2 boxers (and the outrageous purses that that sport is known for).

http://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/

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Don Bauder June 2, 2014 @ 7:23 a.m.

Duhbya: Two of the top seven sports earners are golfers: Tiger Woods is first and Mickelson seventh. This suggests that this is a remunerative sport (apologies to those who feel golf isn't athletics -- a view I disagree with.) Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 2, 2014 @ 11:27 a.m.

Don, I wonder if any of this has to do with Mickelson's claim last year that he forfeits about 63% of his income paying combined federal, state, and payroll taxes. Didn't sit too well with the gubmint types, I'm thinking, although he attracted a large Tea Party following as a result. By the way, I searched that Forbes list in vain for polo and Lacrosse players.

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Don Bauder June 2, 2014 @ 9:02 p.m.

Duhbya: I doubt if his remark about moving from California because of its high taxes had anything to do with the investigation. The government agencies were doing what they should do in such cases: looking for suspicious trading patterns in stocks before market-moving news comes out. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 3, 2014 @ 7:30 a.m.

I'm certain you're right with your assessment. I have a difficult time making distinctions between the hands-off treatment of Wall St fatcats vs the hint of diversionary scapegoating. Trust is an elusive commodity these days. Any legitimate enforcement is a bonus, though.

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Don Bauder June 3, 2014 @ 10:14 a.m.

Duhbya: The media are focusing on Mickelson, but the big fish in this investigation for the government is billionaire corporate raider Icahn. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 3, 2014 @ 11:15 a.m.

I admit it - I got hooked by the hype. Icahn't restrain myself sometimes.

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Don Bauder June 3, 2014 @ 12:17 p.m.

Duhbya: Yes, you certainly cahn't restrain yourself sometimes. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 3, 2014 @ 1:13 p.m.

Imagine how my long-suffering wife feels. Instead of "I do", she's recently been mumbling "I DID"???

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Don Bauder June 3, 2014 @ 2:27 p.m.

Duhbya: Unfortunately for both of us, punsters should be hanged, not hung.

Here's one I made up myself on a dare. A Russian was relating how, in the past, he would have violent coughing fits when he dreamed of outdoor athletic equipment. A psychiatrist cured him. Remembering his past affliction, he explained, "when I'd dream sled, I cough. When I'd dream skate, I cough. When I'd Rimsky-Korsakov. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 3, 2014 @ 6:39 p.m.

And well-hanged (not hung), at that. Nice work, though, to which I can add only "Scheherazade" (bless you).

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Don Bauder June 3, 2014 @ 7:24 p.m.

Duhbya: Touche! The Fight of the Bumblebee. I struck a stinging blow. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya June 3, 2014 @ 8:26 p.m.

So I've been well stung? Bee that as it may, you've created quite a buzz.

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Don Bauder June 4, 2014 @ 3:24 p.m.

Duhbya: Rimsky-Korsakov is often belittled, but he wrote some very good things besides Scheherazade and Flight of the Bumblebee. Capriccio Espagnol and Russian Easter Overture are good works, and I enjoyed the opera Le Coq d'Or, but have only seen it once. Best, Don Bauder

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