Published August 11, 2010
If you want a perfect example of why the American people are disgusted with the elitists who inhabit Washington, Wall Street and Corporate America you need look no further than the recent revelations emanating from the boardroom of Hewlett-Packard and the response of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
Frankly I don’t know which is more disgusting. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd’s unethical behavior of knowingly falsifying his expense accounts to cover up what he says was a non-sexual relationship with a female contractor or his buddy Larry Ellison’s e-mail to the New York Times chastising the HP Board of Directors for firing him for what he called “cowardly corporate political correctness.”
Both Hurd and Ellison need a refresher course in old fashioned ethics.
So let me try to explain to these two ethically challenged boys what they should have learned at their mother’s knee.
First Mr. Hurd. You say you settled an alleged sexual harassment claim with event planner, official greeter and Reality-TV has been or never was Jodie Fisher. Fisher says there was no sex but her lawyer Gloria Allred doesn’t threaten lawsuits unless she thinks she has the goods on someone.
If you did nothing wrong why did you settle? Why didn’t you tell Allred to pound sand? And if you did nothing wrong why did you falsify your expense reports?
Finally ABC News reported that in 2007 you interviewed her at a swanky hotel in Los Angeles “for a job greeting and introducing executives at corporate events”. She was then flown to Denver to meet you for a second interview after which she was hired.
With all you had on your plate as the CEO of one of America’s flagship technology companies you found the time to interview a “greeter”? That right there does not pass the smell test and if I was a board member or stockholder and found out about that I would be outraged.
The CEO of Wal-Mart does not interview “greeters” nor should you.
And here is a message to all wives of Fortune 500 corporate executives. Start asking your husband if his company retains sexy long haired mini skirted “greeters” at out of town events and then show up unannounced at one of those meetings.
Mr. Hurd your trail of deceit led to your firing and you alone are responsible.
Ethics lesson #1. Honesty is not something you should flirt with—you should be married to it.
Mr. Ellison’s e-mail to the New York Times is even more troubling. He attacks the HP board for doing the right thing saying “their decision has already cost HP shareholders over $10 billion and my guess it’s going to cost them a lot more.”
No Mr. Ellison, the board did not cost shareholders that money, your buddy Mark Hurd did. He hired her, he paid her for a sexual harassment claim and he lied on his expense reports to cover up whatever he was afraid of having exposed.
You chastise the board’s actions by stating “Those six directors caused HP to lose a nearly irreplaceable CEO.”
No one is irreplaceable Mr. Ellison. Not even you.
And as far as those now infamous expense reports Mr. Ellison says, “The final insult was when the HP board going to the press and suggested that Mark Hurd engaged in expense fraud over a few thousand dollars. This is not credible. Mark Hurd does not fill out his own expense reports so even if errors were made Mark didn’t make them.”
Mr. Ellison, I don’t know how you get your hat on with your head screwed on so wrong.
Out here in the real world and not the world of billionaires like you Larry, a few thousand dollars means a lot. Try taking a drive from the insular wealthy Silicon Valley where you live to California’s Central Valley where unemployment is 40% in some farming communities and tell them a few thousand dollars is nothing.
And your claim that he does not fill out his own expense reports and is therefore blameless is ridiculous on its face.
Let me make this as clear as I can Mr. Ellison: His name is on the expense reports and like all corporations he signs that report verifying its accuracy. Are you suggesting that some low level assistant fudged the report? Did you ask our pal if he fudged his reports or are you just throwing some poor employee under the bus to fit your version of events? Don’t you think the board asked him directly if he fudged his reports? And if he is innocent of all the charges as you seem to imply why did he resign?
So here is a little cowboy advice for your, Mr. Ellison, before you send another e-mail to anyone: Better to shoot off your rifle by mistake than your mouth on purpose.
Patrick Dorinson blogs at The Cowboy Libertarian. He lives in California.
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