PatriciaGate: More heads roll and...what California's AG *didn't* say

PatriciaGate: More heads roll and...what California's AG *didn't* say

Summary: In it's first major step towards reconciling a scandalous breach in corporate integrity and character, HP CEO Mark Hurd finally came forward last week to clear the air over what I've been referring to as PatriciaGate here on ZDNet (it's referred to that elsewhere too and I am not taking credit for coining the term). Or, at least to clear as much air as HP's lawyers felt was safe to clear.

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TOPICS: Hewlett-Packard
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In it's first major step towards reconciling a scandalous breach in corporate integrity and character, HP CEO Mark Hurd finally came forward last week to clear the air over what I've been referring to as PatriciaGate here on ZDNet (it's referred to that elsewhere too and I am not taking credit for coining the term). Or, at least to clear as much air as HP's lawyers felt was safe to clear. Dunn obviously still believes she's innocent. Questions about Hurd's involvement still remain with his innocence so far resting on his claim that he did not read a key e-mail that contained the details of HP's nearly year-long inquest into who was leaking HP-confidential information to the press. To me, it's reminiscent of Bill Clinton's now infamous "I didn't inhale." Had Hurd read that e-mail during the period of time he says he didn't read it (he has obviously read it in the last few weeks), then the accountability for HPs actions regarding the investigation actually predates the point at which he publicly took ownership of it during his press conference this past Friday. 

Note to the authorities and HP: To find out if Hurd read the e-mail question, just check out the back up tapes of HP's email system.  They should indicate whether or not the mail was ever opened by Hurd, or not.  To cover that up would require a fairly significant effort that could be easily exposed. Both HP and the authorities should be equally interested in having those tapes investigated since they'd reveal one more piece of the truth and Hurd would be one step close to exoneration.

So far, Hurd appears to be safe and there's some significance in the fact that California State attorney general Bill Lockyer went so far as to say on CNBC that "We don't yet have any evidence that would lead to the CEO as one of those that committed the crimes." Lockyer was careful to note that the investigation isn't complete yet. But, there's something that's equally if not more important about what Lockyer didn't say as what he said.  Recall that approximately two weeks ago, it was the same Lockyer that said "We currently have sufficient evidence to indict people both within HP as well as contractors on the outside."

So far, Lockyer hasn't backed away from that statement. Between the sufficient evidence to indict HP insiders and the fact that Lockyer was relatively quick to issue Hurd a Get out of Jail Free card does not bode well for Patricia Dunn.  If the investigation has reached a point at which Hurd's name can be cleared, I'm guessing that Dunn's name could have been cleared by now as well. But it hasn't which is why it made sense for her to step down from the board of directors altogether.

Dunn obviously still believes she's innocent. In her acceptance speech when she was inducted into the Bay Area Council's Bay Area Business Hall of Fame at a gala event last week (an induction which should have been postponed if you ask me), Dunn said:

All I will say about the maelstrom of recent unwelcome attention is that I look forward eagerly to the time in the near future when I will be permitted to set the record straight and go back to living my life as discreetly as possible.

But so far, Lockyer has apparently not released Dunn from the sights of his investigation the way he has Hurd (although Hurd is not completely out of the fire just yet).  Not surprisingly, HP's chief ethics officer and senior counsel Kevin Hunsaker has been sacked as has some of the other actors.

Finally, I was glad to see that Robert Scoble was one of the few people that joined me in speaking out against the distasteful jokes made by Dunn during her induction and I'm sort of surprised how she as well as the attendees at the gala event have so far gotten a hall pass for the faux pas. Dunn joked about how she could use a few more controversial comments by the Pope in order to distract the press from her plight. Two weeks ago, the Pope's comments about Islam sparked waves of outrage amongst many Muslims (and quite possibly, some fatal violence too). There's nothing funny about it. I highly doubt Muslims see it as a laughing matter. Nor do I think the Pope would have gotten a good chuckle out of it. Quite frankly, it was the first time I really wanted to disassociate myself from the industry that I've dedicated my entire career to. Dunn as well as all of those in attendance who laughed loudly at the time should be ashamed of themselves. Someone should have had the guts to stand up and scream "That's not funny Ms. Dunn."  Or maybe the leadership of the Bay Area Council should have revoked her induction on the spot.  But, like sheep being led to slaughter, everybody just went along with it as though nothing was wrong.

Topic: Hewlett-Packard

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15 comments
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  • blah blah blah

    Another case of zdnet sensationalizing it beyond any reason to get more page hits so asto get more revenue from advertisment just like how newspapers sensationalize an issue to get more new paper sales.

    "Quite frankly, it was the first time I really wanted to disassociate myself from the industry that I've dedicated my entire career to"

    Just like how you asked why someone just didnt stand up and tell Patricia Dunn 'That was not funny', why do say write 'I really wanted to disassociate myself from the industry' but rather just do it.
    code_Warrior
    • This is VERY serious and all eyes are on HP. Patricia Dunn is still in

      denial right now about the whole affair. Making jokes about it is NOT appropriate, especially the Pope reference.

      In any regard, the highest level management at one of the biggest tech companies breaking the law is HUGE, this is NOT sensationalizing beyond any reason to get page hits. The number of page hits is a good indication of just how much interest there is in this scandal.
      DonnieBoy
  • I often open messages and read the first line or two, before deciding

    I don't have time to deal with it. Somebody like Hurd has even less time than I do, so just the fact that he clicked on the email in question will not necessarily implicate him, though it will cause him problems.
    DonnieBoy
  • So a Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam walk into a bar...

    Oh wait...

    The humorless are out in force. I'll let that joke go.

    So... you say you wanted to disassociate yourself from the industry because Dunn told a bad joke.

    But that she may have committed a crime... well, you know... disassociating for THAT sort of thing would be an overreaction.

    Oy.
    pkstephens
    • Inducting her into the Bay Area Council's Bay Area Business Hall of Fame

      at this time was pretty tasteless give she was right in the middle of some very unethical (and probably ilegal) activities at the time. The Pope joke was particularly uncalled for. So, if the Bay Area Council is any indication of what the tech industry is like in general, I am embarassed to be part of it too.
      DonnieBoy
      • "In General"

        Is the Bay Area Council an indication of what the tech industry is like?

        Or is it too small a sample to be an accurate reflection?

        Is Dunn's joke an indication of what she's like?

        Or is one joke too small a sample to be representative?

        Is the scandal a true refelction of her character and her accomplishements, or is too an aberration?

        Might the Council have decided that she deserved the award on past merit, and that revoking it on the basis of as-yet-unproven allegations would be the tastless thing to do?

        And the Pope joke was... well, it was a ~joke~. But hey, we all reserve the right to be horribly offended by anything and everything if we so choose. But maybe, just maybe... tolerance means letting the small stuff slide. I know, it's a crazy idea....
        pkstephens
  • Who really cares

    cover something important for a change. This has become tabloid journalism--if one could even call it journalism. The jerry springer of reporting!
    dguith@...
  • Let me get this straight...

    Hurd is out of the woods and is being rewarded (chairman of the board) because he was too neglegent to keep track of important company business? I know what my boss would say if I publicaly said thaqt I blew off emails on an important project, the door would be comming at me awfully fast. I wonder what else this guy hasn't been doing and reading that he should be. Come to think of it, it probably is better to be neglegent than morally bankrupt.
    don3605
  • The boards a joke and Elephants fly!

    As Freddy Prince once said, "ea mon..ain't no my yob!
    john_galt@...
  • Being "safe" doesn't just depend on documents

    Hurd's safety depends in large part on others declining to turn on him.

    In particular the woman he "threw under the bus," Patricia Dunn, must continue to back his story.

    I'm calling this (on my other blog, which can discuss such subjects) the Sgt. Schultz Defense:
    http://www.danablankenhorn.com/2006/09/hurd_on_the_str.html

    The post also discloses whom I feel the real culprit here happens to be....
    DanaBlankenhorn
  • first you die, then we negotiate (Muslim peace talk)

    "Two weeks ago, the Pope's comments about Islam sparked waves of outrage amongst many Muslims (and quite possibly, some fatal violence too). There's nothing funny about it. I highly doubt Muslims see it as a laughing matter."

    This is the kind of politically correct thinking that has us dancing tippie-toe around Muslim "sensibilities" while the scoundrels among them commit terrorist acts worldwide. Who needs this crap? We ought to be lampooning those responsible (and the countries providing them cover) at every opportunity. Let 1000 comics have a field day trashing 12th century religious and political beliefs.

    Tryants, mullahs, and dictators can't tolerate humor conducted at their expense. It is one of the most potent weapons we have to deflate their supercharged egos and make total wreckage of the corruption, irrationaslity, and insanity that they ultimately stand for.

    Worked quite nicely on Hitler!
    dmennie
    • Violent reactions to "accusations" of violence

      "Two weeks ago, the Pope's comments about Islam sparked waves of outrage amongst many Muslims (and quite possibly, some fatal violence too). There's nothing funny about it. I highly doubt Muslims see it as a laughing matter."

      Actually, the Pope's mere mention of a 16th century Persian's (accurate) comments about the Islamic penchant for violence sparked waves of violence by Muslims, feigning outrage at the accusation that Islam has a history (and present) of violence, thus proving the veracity of that which supposedly "outraged" them!

      If it weren't for the vast property damage, injuries, and deaths (including the murder of a nun, who had dedicated her entire life to helping Muslims), the irony would be hilarious.
      cdgoldin
  • Secret Deal to resign after getting her award?

    It sure seems that Dunne orchestrated the timing of completely stepping down from the HP
    board until after her award.

    The missing story here is the total lack of ethics on the part of the organization that gave her the award and all the partygoers that still attended.

    As you say, it should at least have been postponed giving everyone the benefit of the doubt until the criminal investigations are over.
    spiv
  • what back up tapes.......

    well you see the HP backup tapes system we were using had this problem.........
    fiveohjim1
  • Merry Christmas and God Bless America

    She can say what she wants and who are you to say it's wrong. The irony that stating that someone said something politically incorrect should be politically incorrect and you can chase that tail all you want.
    erich@...