Hewlett-Packard Co. is the ultimate rationale for Carly Fiorina’s U.S. Senate campaign.
The Republican candidate was CEO of Hewlett-Packard for six years. She engineered the mega-merger with Compaq. She managed the “reinvention of the legendary company,” as her campaign biography says.
But in the end, Fiorina’s stormy proprietorship ended in her firing. And before that, she faced bitter criticism – from the 28,000 people who lost their jobs as a result of the merger, and from Packard family heirs who passionately believed Fiorina was wrecking a company they considered their birthright.
Today, the lingering nature of that bitterness may be reflected in campaign finance records. Four months before the election, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat with no particular ties to HP, is raising more money from Hewlett-Packard sources than the company’s former CEO.
Boxer has obtained $7,373, Federal Election Commission records show: $3,000 from HP’s Political Action Committee; $2,000 from HP computer scientist Jeffrey Mogul; $1,000 from Executive Vice President Michael Holston; $675 from computer scientist Ahmed Ezzat; $250 from Jason Rodriguez, director of government affairs; $200 from software engineer John Clark; $198 from programmer Thomas Wang; and $50 from Bruce Culbertson, another engineer.
For her part, Fiorina has obtained only two donations from HP sources: $2,400 from Anne Livermore, head of HP’s enterprise business division; and $500 from Steve Huhn, a vice president for sales.
That’s all the money the former CEO has managed to raise from her former company.
Fiorina's HP critics have expressed their continued displeasure in other ways. During the GOP primary, Arianna Packard, granddaughter of the co-founder, posted a letter at Redstate.com calling Fiorina a "greedy, out-of-touch CEO" who "almost" destroyed HP. Packard wound up campaigning for Chuck DeVore.
In general, HP’s federal PAC is leaning toward Democrats this year. Opensecrets.org reports the PAC has donated $33,900 to GOP candidates and more than $66,000 to Democrats.
The biggest Republican beneficiary was Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, who got $5,000. The Searchlight Leadership Fund, a PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., obtained $7,500 from HP. (N.B. Opensecrets says Boxer has obtained $5,000 from the HP PAC, but Federal Election Commission reports show only $3,000.) HP has donated an additional $30,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Photo by the U.S. Army
For a hugely profitable and successful U.S. company, HP has a dramatic recent history. There was the public infighting between Fiorina and David Packard, son and namesake of the company co-founder (and Arianna's father) over the Compaq merger. Then there was there was the "I-Spy" operation directed by then-board chair Patty Dunn, who was fired for investigating a corporate director whom she suspected of leaking news to business reporters.
Summing up this year's dramatics at HP, Information Age writes: "So far, it has been accused of stealing trade secrets, evading tax in India, and paying ‘influencer fees’ to win government contracts in the U.S. and Russia. In the U.K., it has paid £318 million in compensation to BSkyB over a failed (customer relationship management) project and faced employee strikes over redundancies.”
All that was before Mark Hurd, Fiorina’s replacement as CEO, was sacked for expense-account abuses discovered because a marketing consultant accused him of sexual harassment. Hurd reportedly obtained a multimillion-dollar golden parachute.
Fiorina isn’t paying attention to the latest HP scandal, she told the Bay Area News Group.
During his years as CEO, Hurd donated $35,000 in federal campaigns, most of it to the HP PAC. Jodie Fisher, the consultant whose complaint cost Hurd his job, hasn’t given any political money, records show.