The board of Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ) was blindsided by the public relations campaign waged on behalf of former CEO Mark Hurd, who resigned last week over alleged ethics violations.

Hurd, who collected a $12.2 million cash payment as part of his separation, hired Los Angeles-based public relations firm Sitrick & Co. days before quitting, The Wall Street Journal reported without naming its sources. Sitrick is known for handing crisis communications for big names such as celebrity Paris Hilton.

HP's directors "hoped he would move on," one source told The Wall Street Journal. The board would rather focus on "protecting the brand and taking the higher ground."

Since Hurd's departure, his friend Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle (ORCL), also wrote an e-mail challenging the board's decision. Hurd did not ask Ellison to write the e-mail or read it before it was sent.

Hurd resigned following an allegation of sexual harassment from Jodie Fisher, a woman who did contract work for HP's marketing department. The allegation led to the uncovering of allegedly falsified expense claims, in which Hurd listed other executives as his dinner guests when he was actually dining with Fisher.

The details of the sexual harassment claim are not known. Fisher, 50, has publicly said that she never had a sexual relationship with Hurd, and that she's saddened by the fact that he has lost his job.

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Hurd saved HP after the Forina Disaster.

He turned the company around, and saved a train wreck that would have cost thousands of lost USA jobs.

Hurd was human and his sins were minor.

He should have been forced to repay the company, docked some salary, and timed out of the company for 30 days.

Instead, the Board destroyed Hurd, HP and themselves.

The board should be sacked!

August 11 2010 at 10:28 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to amosbyrd's comment

So CEO's shouldn't have to lead by example? Do as I say, not as I do? I don't think so. If the board did nothing, they would be out of integrity. I agree Hurd turned HP around after Carly got the boot, but to say that corporate leader's shouldn't be held to the same basic standards as everyone else, is just plain lunacy. He had a good gig at HP, and he blew it. Only Hurd could have prevented this outcome. He knew better and should have done better...he didn't.

August 11 2010 at 2:08 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply