Those damned reporters. All they want to do is bring Hewlett-Packard and Larry Sonsini down.
Not to worry, though. Anna Eshoo — the Democratic representative whose district includes HP, and Sonsini’s firm — decided to set things straight today at the House committee hearing on HP.
While the media is focused on the HP board and its Valley lawyers from Wilson Sonsini, “when you drill down, there was some shoe box lawyer” responsible for the bad legal advice, she said. Eshoo was referring to Boston attorney John Kiernan, who supposedly told HP investigators that their methods were legal.
After making that point, Eshoo made another point: she had to say hi to Larry.
“It’s good to see you,” she said. “Long way from Palo Alto to this hearing room.” That much is clear, given the fact that people are — brace yourselves, Silicon Valley readers — criticizing both Sonsini and HP.
That’s not OK with Eshoo. She wants everyone to remember HP’s prominence in the Valley — and the damage that boardroom leaks can cause.
In fact, she was appalled that the apparent leaker, former board member George Keyworth, wasn’t at the hearing.
“I can’t believe he’s not here,” she said, before proceeding to show more upset with the boardroom leaks than the troubling means HP used to investigate them.
“Did you know there was someone there who couldn’t keep his mouth shut?” she asked Sonsini. “That it was damaging, that it was proprietary information?”
Later: “I don’t think, with all due respect to HP, this is unique to them,” she said. “Humans make up the boards, humans are imperfect, and God knows, there’s leaking.”
Of course, it’s not clear what was damaging or proprietary, since the information “leaked” to News.com doesn’t seemed to have been anything that hadn’t earlier been publicly reported.
Nonetheless, Sonsini answered gravely in the affirmative. “You are correct, congresswoman,” he said.
So why the softball? We could point out the $2,000 that Sonsini gave Eshoo in 2003, or the $4,500 that HP’s PAC gave her in 2004, and the $5,000 it gave her in 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But then we’d have to mention that HP gave Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and one of the leaders of the hearing, $6,000 over the last few years, including $2,500 in May. And he’s not doing the company any favors.
— Justin Scheck