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Martha Not-So-Skewered

Not only is Martha Stewart requesting that she be allowed to serve the first five months of her sentence at home — then serving the next five in a proper prison — she’s continuing to exert solid influence on the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s board of directors.

The board has retooled this week, tapping a candidate recommended by the recently sentenced Stewart. That man? One Charles Koppelman, who served as chair of Steve Madden’s board when the founder of that shoe company was sent up the river on charges of securities fraud. Interesting!

Such shifts raise two questions: One, with leaders such as Bill George making the case for more transparent boards, when will board members — who are ostensibly tasked with overseeing executive behavior — be held somewhat responsible for evils ignored during their involvement? (Read: Does a company with an already-sullied leader want to take on a board member who served for another company also wracked by a financial scandal?)

And secondly, should Stewart still have that sort of say? I know she plans to remained involved — and that her revised role is still in the works — but really. She’s yet to serve Day One of her sentence, and she’s knighting new board members like she never went to court, was determined guilty, and sent to jail. Do not pass go. Do not pass $200. It might be wise for organizations led by people found guilty of criminal behavior to institute some sort of “quiet influence” period in which others serve in that leader’s stead.

Because otherwise, just what does the sentence mean?

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