Taser International Inc. allegedly made false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning an agreement with two large newspapers, says the Center for Investigative Reporting. The statements stem from the 2006 settlement of Taser's libel suit against Gannett Co., Inc, parent corporation of the two newspapers–USA Today and the Arizona Republic. Taser said in two SEC filings that the newspapers “would review articles regarding the Taser device with us prior to publication”–an extraordinary breach of journalistic standards. Taser's general counsel told Wall Street analysts in an earnings conference call that it was “to ensure accuracy.”
The newspapers deny making such an agreement and have demanded that Taser formally correct the record. The Scottsdale, Az.-based stun-gun maker and its hometown paper have had a contentious history, resulting from the Republic's detailed reporting, from 2004-2006, about the company and the safety concerns of its flagship product, which is used by more than 13,000 law enforcement, correctional, and military agencies around the world. USA Today has also angered Taser, particularly after a June 2005 story and graphic that significantly overstated the electrical output of Taser's X26-model stun gun. Taser contacted the newspaper and the story was corrected the next day of publication.