Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Exclusive: Here’s What Hurd’s Actual HP Expense Reports Say About Controversial Fisher Dinners

While much of the attention may focus on the original letter written by Gloria Allred to Mark Hurd claiming a pattern of sexual harassment of the marketing contractor Jodie Fisher, the fact remains that he was fully exonerated of those allegations by an internal Hewlett-Packard investigation conducted by the law firm of Covington & Burling on behalf of HP’s board of directors.

In fact, what got Hurd ousted from his job as HP’s CEO on Aug. 6, 2010, were questions related to his expense reports.

So what do they show?

AllThingsD has obtained some background notes that were prepared in connection with the so-called Covington Report — which a Delaware judge has ruled will remain under seal — delivered to HP’s board during the summer of 2010. The one page of notes goes into some detail about the nature of the four of Hurd’s expense reports that specifically name Fisher as having been in attendance.

This is a key detail because HP’s official reason, as explained by then general counsel Michael Holston on Aug. 6, 2010, was that Hurd’s expense reports were prepared in a way that “had the effect of concealing Mark’s personal relationship with the contractor.”

How might Hurd have arguably used an expense report in this way? By leaving her name off of reports claiming expenses for certain dinners.

But here are four examples of expense reports where Fisher was specifically named. By way of explanation, mentions of “Fimbres” refer to Hurd’s assistant Caprice Fimbres, who had hired Fisher in the first place.

A third person is listed as being in attendance on three of the four occasions. In one instance, it is Hurd’s assistant Fimbres, who arranged the dinners — but might not, in fact, have attended.

In another, it is Denis Lynch, Hurd’s security guard, who also might have been nearby but not at the actual dinner.

In another, it is John Spires, but it is unclear exactly who he is. (Note: The expense note could be referencing John Spiers — spelled differently — who was CTO and founder of LeftHand Networks, which was sold to HP in 2008; he is now CEO and founder of NexGen Storage.)

September  12,  2007 — Fimbres later seeks reimbursement for “Dinner with HP Host for CEO Events” for the night of September 12. Dinner was billed to Sullivan’s and the listed attendees are Hurd and Fisher. Total reimbursed amount is $99.86.

October 26, 2007 — Fimbres later seeks reimbursement for dinner at the hotel the night of Oct. 26 in the amount of $319.47. The listed attendees are Hurd, Fisher and Denis Lynch (HP employee).

July 30, 2008 — An expense report filed by Caprice Fimbres shows a charge for “dinner with three people” — Fimbres, Hurd and Fisher — in midtown Tokyo for $326.50.

August 3, 2009 — A Fimbres expense report shows a $347.42 charge for dinner at W Steak in Beverly Hills. Listed attendees are Hurd, Fisher and John Spires. Stated business purpose is “Dinner while in Los Angeles with HP Customer Roundtable Host,” and there is the following expense comment: “High Cost restaurant although didn’t order that much.”

The first meeting mentioned in this group would appear to coincide with a meeting in Denver described in the Allred letter. Fisher, as Allred tells it, was being considered for a job, but the meeting “felt more like a date.”

HP has never disclosed the detailed accounts of the problems with Hurd’s expense reports that led to his resignation, and probably never will. Hurd was, after all, two CEOs ago now, and HP obviously has other priorities.

And Hurd is now co-president at Oracle, HP’s bitter rival.

But these details, if nothing else, raise some additional questions about the circumstances that led HP’s board to conclude that it had lost its trust in Hurd.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald