Ex-counsel at H-P stays mum as Capitol Hill hearings start
A congressional hearing into the corporate spying imbroglio at Hewlett-Packard got underway in Washington today as the company's former general counsel pleaded her Fifth Amendment right not to testify for fear of incriminating herself.
Ann Baskins had earlier resigned her position with the company. Lawyers for Baskins told the chairman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that the attorney wanted to testify but that with a slew of ongoing investigations, she had no choice but to invoke her constitutional right.
Nine witnesses involved with H-P's high-level spying scandal were scheduled to testify before the panel. Congressional staffers have subpoenaed and scrutinized more than 15,000 pages of documents, a congressional source tells U.S. News. Those include dozens of E-mails from CEO Mark Hurd, former Chairman Patricia Dunn, and other top executives who knew about the operation to spy on directors in order to ferret out leakers.
Dunn has already resigned from H-P, along with two other top officials who will appear. But one big question lawmakers will drill into is how much Hurd knew about the scheme and whether he should remain at the helm of the tech giant. Three witnesses refused to appear voluntarily and were issued subpoenas: Kevin Hunsaker, H-P's former senior counsel, who resigned earlier this week; former global security chief Anthony Gentilucci, who also left the company this week; and Ronald DeLia, who runs a Boston investigative firm that H-P hired to do some of the work.
They are likely to take the Fifth and stay mum. One witness who will get a lot of attention is Joe Deponte, whose firm, Action Research Group, allegedly did some of the "pretexting" in which callersarmed with Social Security numbers provided by H-Pposed as board members in order to obtain telephone records.
None of the witnesses has been pre-interviewed, which means committee members "will basically be doing depositions in public," says the source.