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A "Colossally Stupid" Thing to Do

Hewlett-Packard's board chair Patricia Dunn was furious. For more than a year, someone on the HP board of directors had been leaking information to the media. Intent on identifying the mole, Dunn hired private investigators to dig into the matter. The snoops used an unsavory tactic called "pretexting" to obtain board member George Keyworth's phone records: an investigator impersonating Keyworth called his phone company and requested logs of the calls made to and from his home. Armed with phone records that listed calls to media numbers, Dunn confronted Keyworth and he admitted talking to the press. Keyworth refused to resign from the board, but HP has said it will not re-nominate him when his term expires.

This HP board uproar, the latest in a long list of them, caught the attention of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. "I don't have a settled view on whether it was illegal yet, but it certainly was colossally stupid," he told The Associated Press. He announced that his office is launching an investigation.

HP lists its standards of business conduct on its Web site. The first standard:
Every member of the HP community (including directors, executives, managers, employees and business partners) must adhere to the highest standards of business ethics and comply with all applicable laws.
Perhaps HP's board members, especially its chair, should familiarize themselves with the company's stated values. They'll then be better equipped to live by the values they profess, and they won't look so colossally stupid.
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