Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meg Whitman's Ethics on Trial

At LAT, "Whitman's words put spotlight on deeds: A lucrative Goldman Sachs deal, a Craigslist battle and personal investments raise questions":

Meg Whitman says she became one of the world's wealthiest CEOs by always asking, "What is the right thing to do?"

In her recently released autobiography, the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination disavows Wall Street "self-dealing and fraud" and rejects as myth the idea that successful executives must "step on people, stretch the truth . . . and make heartless decisions based only on the bottom line."

Several of Whitman's actions while in corporate office and as an investor, however, raise questions about whether her conduct has squared with the image she has created in the book, on the stump and through tens of millions of dollars' worth of campaign commercials. Her ethical compass was tested repeatedly as she went from young Harvard MBA to chief executive of the online auction giant EBay, and some shareholders, regulators and business partners found it wanting.

A lucrative deal that Whitman cut for herself with investment banking giant Goldman Sachs was called "corrupt" by the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. The partnership she forged between EBay and online rival Craigslist landed in court and is still there; Craigslist has accused EBay of stealing trade secrets and fraudulent advertising. At another company, her dismissal of a subordinate executive resulted in an age-discrimination lawsuit and a secret court settlement.

As an investor, she put millions of dollars into private equity firms with a reputation for callous business practices. Subsidiaries of one of the "distressed asset" firms in which she identifies herself as a limited partner foreclosed on dozens of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"It's nice to say if you just behave ethically, you will make profits," said Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University who focuses on ethics. "If that were true, life would be really easy. But . . . there are tradeoffs. And if you are a politician, you have to account for them."

Whitman declined to be interviewed, referring questions to her campaign staff.
A crooked RINO buying the governor's mansion. Golly Gee Wilikers! Just what California needs!

The race is tightening, so maybe Wily Whitman's ethical lapses will upend her at the finish line:


Rusty Walker said...

If Meg Whitman gets the Governorship, and with it, state executive experience, and is as fiscally successful as Palin was in her state, this may be a more realistic female candidate for president than Palin. Just my humble opinion. I don't think Palin is electable. I think Whitman is.

richard mcenroe said...

Rusty, I have to ask if you are a CA resident.

Whitman has blown a 50-point lead in the polls and right now is in a statistically dead heat with Poizner. She has no ground game, basically hiding from the public behind her constantly running attack ads, which have saturated the market to the point where many people are simply getting sick of the sight of her, and her growing pile of exposed lies and misstatements.

She has no governing experience whatsoever and has admitted she doesn't even vote; how is she going to govern a state in as much trouble as CA?

She was CEO of E-Bay. How does queening it over a bunch of nonunion slackers updating a website prepare her for dealing with civil servant unions?

She spent over $50 MILLION on a FREAKING PRIMARY! Does this make you think she understands fiscal responsibility? Or does it make you wonder what she's in this for?

She flipflopped on immigration.

I tremble to think what country Meg Whitman might be electable in.

Rusty Walker said...

I'm not in California. Just going by the recent press info. Thanks for the information, Richard. This blog is a great place to debate, discuss and learn as well as post opinion. I learn something every day. I'm in Arizona.