Packard heir slams GOP Senate candidate, former Hewlett-Packard chief Fiorina

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Republican Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina touts her business resume, particularly her years as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, as the reason GOP voters should nominate her to face Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

But this morning, an heir to one of the company’s founders issued a slashing rebuttal, arguing that Fiorina nearly drove the technology firm into the ground.


“I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded,” wrote Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of David Packard, in a letter posted on

Fiorina is in a tough three-way GOP race to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer. Her tenure at Hewlett-Packard was controversial, with Portfolio magazine crowning her one of the 20 worst American chief executives of all time.

Arianna Packard is the daughter of David Woodley Packard, who fought Fiorina when she engineered the merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, a decision that partly led to her firing by the board of directors in 2005. She is also a supporter of and donor to one of Fiorina’s rivals, Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Her letter is a response to one penned by Fiorina backers Sens. James Inhofe, Tom Coburn and Jon Kyl. The three senators wrote, “We are proud to endorse her as a fellow conservative who has real-world business experience and the guts and moxie to take on Barbara Boxer and win. Carly is not a Washington insider. She is a proven business leader who understands the economy and advocates a strong national defense.”

Packard slammed their position, arguing that Fiorina is a failed businesswoman.

“ … allow me to disillusion you of a few of your stated reasons for supporting her,” she wrote. “You write that she is a ‘proven business leader.’ This may be how she spins her career, but most business commentators consider Fiorina’s tenure at HP to be a disaster.”

In addition to criticizing stock price drops and layoffs during Fiorina’s reign, Packard criticized Fiorina’s positions on Internet taxation, global warming, education, judicial nominations and affirmative action.

“If Ms. Fiorina is what passes for conservative in Washington today, then the establishment has veered sadly to the left,” Packard wrote.

The dust-up came as the California Republican Assembly, a staunchly conservative GOP group, decided to endorse DeVore at its convention this weekend in Orange County.

Each delegate at the convention received an e-mailed copy of the senators’ letter last week, print-outs of articles and polls favorable to Fiorina stuffed underneath their hotel room doors Sunday morning and Fiorina-branded pens to mark their ballots. DeVore ended up receiving 194 votes, while Fiorina received 89.

-- Seema Mehta