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A Candidate On The Rise, With A Damning Résumé

Carly Fiorina is enjoying an upswing in the polls and increased buzz following her strong performance in the GOP minor-league debate. As part of her sudden viability as a contender for the Republican nomination, she is aligning herself with a variety of crackpot conservative positions — from wanting to curb women’s rights to supporting the anti-vaxxer hysteria.

A former executive, as opposed to a career politician, Fiorina has often cited her business experience as an indication that her realm is one of bottom lines and tactile results — not empty promises. And she has touted her résumé, which includes most prominently a six-year term as CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP), as a testament to her management skill and leadership experience.

Yet the surge in media attention has not all been positive: A number of reports have come out, throwing an unfavorable light on her time as HP’s chief executive, from 1999 to her firing in 2005, during which time several thousand jobs were cut, the company’s profitability plummeted, and the once-powerful computer giant was left in disarray.

One of Fiorina’s signature acts was to pilot the merger between HP and Compaq, in the largest computer company merger at the time. Andrew Ross Sorkin, writing in The New York Times, summarizes the impact of the move:

Hewlett-Packard is still recovering from the ill-conceived merger nearly 15 years later, and recently decided to split the company up. There were some 30,000 layoffs. Its stock price plunged and badly lagged its competition.

Sorkin also reports that Fiorina’s campaign has inflated the revenue figures from her time as chief executive to paint an unrealistic portrait of the company’s success.

The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports that the 30,000 layoffs under Fiorina’s tenure include “roughly 200 layoffs in New Hampshire,” which prompted “the federal government to provide emergency grant funds to the Granite State, which holds the nation’s first primary.”

Linskey continues:

Her tenure there was criticized by some for poor strategic decisions and causing employee morale to plummet. “Her leadership of HP was a total disaster for the company,” said Michael Beer, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, who has written a book about the firm.

When Fiorina took the helm, he said, the company “had problems,” but was not in dire straits.

[…] The year after Fiorina left HP, employees in the region continued to lose their jobs. Massachusetts used about $800,000 in state funds to help 266 laid-off HP workers in 2006, according to the state Department of Labor.

And Jeffrey Sonnenfeld paints a damning portrait in Fortune of Fiorina’s trail of “carnage,” writing that the short-answer verdict of her time as CEO is: She did “pretty badly.” He elaborates:

In 1999, a dysfunctional HP board committee, filled with its own poisoned politics, hired her with no CEO experience, nor interviews with the full board. Fired in 2005, after six years in office, several leading publications titled her one of the worst technology CEOs of all time. In fact, the stock popped 10 percent on the news of her firing and closed the day up 7 percent.

So as Fiorina casts herself as the tough, effective, business-minded leader America needs right now, Sorkin cautions that she will have “difficulty arguing that her time as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard should be viewed as an asset, and not a liability.”

Photo: Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina responds to a question at a Fox-sponsored forum for lower-polling candidates held before the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder 

Fiorina Dead Wrong About Clinton Foundation — But It’s Worse Than That

Carly Fiorina is still masquerading as a Republican candidate for president – although her poll numbers remain dismal – so perhaps we must pay attention to her. The longer she sticks around, however, the more she demonstrates that she is even more awful than anyone realized.

Which is, for the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and busted Senate candidate, a kind of achievement.

Attempting to reintroduce herself to America as the anti-Hillary, Fiorina has repeatedly attacked the work of the Clinton Foundation, repeating lies she reads in right-wing media about its budget and expenditures. When Fox News Channel interviewed her on June 10, she complained, “We are finding so little of the charitable donations [collected by the Clinton Foundation] go to charitable work.” Based on her interpretation of the foundation’s IRS 990 forms, she estimated that only 6 percent of its funds have gone toward charitable purposes.

Uttered by someone who claims to be a brilliant executive — which presumably includes the capacity to read and comprehend financial documents — that was an embarrassingly stupid remark. Very little knowledge or expertise is required to figure out that the Clinton Foundation is an operating entity, or really a public charity, whose salaries, travel expenses, and other costs reflect actual work on the ground all over the world.

Now the nonpartisan Factcheck.org has bluntly corrected Fiorina’s nonsensical accusation in a long, painstaking refutation of what she and others (including a Fox News genius named Gerri Willis) have said about the Clinton Foundation’s spending.

“Fiorina is simply wrong,” according to the Factcheck report, which went on to assess the foundation’s budget in detail. The bottom line, according to the philanthropy analysts at CharityWatch, is that the Clinton Foundation spends 89 percent of donations for charitable purposes – well above the industry standard of 75 percent.

But that’s not even the worst part. Fiorina could have found out these facts very easily, because she is involved with groups that work with the Clinton Global Initiative and even got herself some free publicity in 2014 by appearing at a CGI event with former President Clinton.

So she mounted a damaging political assault on the same organization whose goodwill she had exploited for her own purposes, casually defaming thousands of foundation employees who perform important work — without even attempting to learn the truth from them first.

To me, this indicates personal character so low as to disqualify her for any elected office, let alone the presidency. She is untrustworthy as well as incompetent.

Anyone who has studied Fiorina’s career probably knows that already. Discussing her disdain for a minimum-wage increase at the CGI event, she blamed increasing economic inequality on “crony capitalism” – a problem highlighted, of course, by her own $40 million golden parachute, which enraged Hewlett-Packard stockholders, executives, and workers.

Carly Fiorina Fails To Be Master Of Her Domain

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and unsuccessful Republican candidate for U.S. senator from California, officially announced Monday that she is running for the GOP presidential nomination. But along the way, she kind of forgot something important in her online presence.

Best (or worst) of all, this is a campaign flub that people might find especially surprising from a former executive in the computer industry.

Though Fiorina did secure the domain name of CarlyFiorina.com, which redirects to her official site at CarlyForPresident.com, she and her campaign forgot to nail down another very vital address: CarlyFiorina.org.

A certain someone else did grab it, however — and used the domain to present readers with a none-too-flattering statement about her record in business.

Here’s the site as it appeared Tuesday:

Rows of frowny-face emoticons, each one representing a person laid off by HP during Fiorina’s tenure, continue down the page — and down, and down, and down some more. Finally, the reader reaches the end.

The Hill on Monday uncovered the identity of the prankster: Michael Link, assistant director of digital strategy at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). For his part, however, Link said this project was done on his own, and with his own money, and is not connected to his employers at a major labor union.

Photo: Carly Fiorina speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

‘Name An Accomplishment’: A Question Republicans Shouldn’t Ask

With her boffo appearance at CPAC, it became obvious why Carly Fiorina masquerades as a presidential candidate: She loves the attention! According to National Review, her CPAC remarks scored a hit, if only because she trashed Hillary Clinton’s record as Secretary of State. Fiorina certainly proved her cred as a Fox News Republican. She eagerly parroted familiar talking points about Clinton – “Name an accomplishment!” – and accused Clinton of saying, “What difference does it make?” in response to the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Such craven willingness to lie for a cheap cheer at CPAC is all they – or we – need to know about Fiorina.

“Name an Accomplishment” is a game that everyone can play, however, and I daresay that Hillary Clinton and her avid defense team have plenty of answers. As for Fiorina, she came close to wrecking Hewlett-Packard, a major U.S. technology firm whose owners and shareholders hope never to see her face again. Many of her former colleagues there consider her utterly without qualifications for any role in government, no matter how small. (They make her sound like a pretty awful person, too.) Beyond her dubious résumé, Fiorina’s most memorable achievement was the moronic “Demon Sheep ad,” nominated by NPR’s Ken Rudin as “the worst political ad ever” – aired with her approval, of course.

Few former secretaries of state can actually point to a single, world-historical achievement distinguishing their tenure. Clinton went far, and not just literally, toward restoring American prestige and alliances after the nadir of the Bush administration.

As for Bush’s secretaries of state, both share responsibility for bringing this country to a very low point: Colin Powell with his infamous UN speech on Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction,” a decision that he has since disowned; and Condoleezza Rice, with her “mushroom cloud” fakery and a long series of lies on the same topic. Hundreds of thousands dead, still more grievously wounded and left homeless, trillions of dollars squandered, and a violent Islamist movement rising from the ruins: Now there’s a whole series of accomplishments! Neither Powell nor Rice is likely to be remembered for much else.

Photo: Carly Fiorina addresses CPAC 2014 (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)