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Case of the Fox Guarding the Henhouse, er, Hewlett-Packard

Corporate lawyers often handle dull tasks like engaging in due diligence or reading through stacks of securities disclosures. So it must have been a nice diversion for HP senior counsel Kevin Hunsaker to play a major role in devising a scheme to dupe a reporter into revealing her sources, as reported in this latest article on the Hewlett-Packard scandal, HP CEO Allowed Sting of Reporter (Washington Post, 9/21/2006). According to the article:

Determined to ferret out the source's identity, HP senior counsel Kevin Hunsaker, who led the HP investigation ordered by Dunn, and an HP colleague in Boston created a fictitious persona, "Jacob," who would pose as a disgruntled HP "senior level executive" and cultivate Kawamoto [the reporter] by saying he was "an avid reader of your columns."

The idea, evidently, was to induce Kawamoto to open an e-mail attachment with a "tracer" in it that would allow them to see who she forwarded it to. They hoped it would pinpoint board member Keyworth as her source, according to the documents.

Trouble is, Hunsaker isn't Woodward or Bernstein or a spy or a  vigilante. As Wired's blog points out, Hunsaker was supposedly HP's Director of Corporate Ethics! The press makes much of the fact that HP's top honchos, new Chairman Mark Hurd and ousted Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, both approved the sting. But why wouldn't they when the company's top lawyer and ethics expert was so gleefully arranging it?

I'm not sure what kind of approach Hunsaker will take to defend his conduct, but I sure hope that he doesn't blame his clients. He was the lawyer -- he should have known better.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 21, 2006 at 06:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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