September 20, 2006 11:10 PM PDT

HP's Dunn toasted at gala dinner

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

SAN FRANCISCO--Hewlett-Packard's embattled chairman, Patricia Dunn, accepted a "hall of fame" leadership award at a gala dinner here on Wednesday night where she received a standing ovation from local executives.

The applause and paeans to a long and successful career seemed to gratify Dunn, who has been the subject of ongoing criticism and media scrutiny since reports in the last two weeks revealed that she had called for and perhaps helped to direct an intrusive probe into boardroom leaks.

Patricia Dunn

Dunn thanked the Bay Area Council, a regional business lobbying and networking group, for "courage in standing by your decision (to grant the award) in such unexpected circumstances." The council's board of directors includes representatives of Wells Fargo, Pacific Gas & Electric, Bank of America, and the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

"All I will say about the maelstrom is that I look forward eagerly, in the near future, to the time when I can set the record straight and go back to leading my life as discreetly as possible," Dunn said during her after-dinner speech.

HP's investigative practices have become the subject of criminal probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the California attorney general. The U.S. House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 28 where Dunn is expected to testify. HP's investigators accessed the phone records of more than a dozen people, including three CNET News.com reporters, and apparently engaged in physical surveillance and sending bogus e-mail tips.

The bizarre juxtaposition of receiving a leadership award from an organization that stresses business ethics and good corporate governance was not lost on Dunn, who said she's aware of the "irony of being inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame."

Click here to Play

Video: Dunn speaks out at event
HP's chairman makes comments on recent scandal

But for the most part, other dinner speakers offered plaudits to Dunn--there was even a slideshow with her high school yearbook photo--with only passing references to her recent troubles.

David Zenoff, chairman of Larkin Street Youth Services, applauded "her strong sense of humanity, high standards and doing the right thing." (Dunn and her husband are major donors to the nonprofit organization, which seeks to help homeless youth in San Francisco.)

Dunn "epitomizes the special spirit and qualities that our country and the Bay Area have long cherished," Zenoff said.

"Without the leadership our Bay Area Hall of Fame honors, we would be in a heck of a mess," said Alexander Mehran, CEO of the Sunset Development Company and the council's chairman.

Mehran did joke, however, that news reports have painted Dunn as the "new J. Edgar Hoover of Silicon Valley."

chart
HP in the hot seat
Where the House and other inquiries into HP's methods stand.

Dunn capped her speech with a joke as well. She said "it wouldn't hurt if the pope continued to make controversial comments"--which might get her name off the front page.

According to an HP spokesman on Thursday, CEO Mark Hurd--who has now been linked to the investigation--did not attend the dinner. (News.com was unable to verify who was present at the head table on Wednesday night because reporters were required to stand in the back of the hotel ballroom in a roped-off area.) The Washington Post reported on its Web site late Wednesday night that Hurd approved of an elaborate sting operation aimed at deceiving News.com reporter Dawn Kawamoto.

A second unlikely juxtaposition was Dunn sharing a stage with Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, which had at least one of its reporters "pretexted" by HP investigators. But Keller, who spoke afterward, stuck to a prepared script about national security and journalism.

 
Correction:Due to incorrect information provided by the Bay Area Council, the original story misstated who was sitting at the head table at a dinner honoring Hewlett-Packard chairman Patricia Dunn. An HP representative said on Thursday that CEO Mark Hurd did not attend the dinner.

See more CNET content tagged:
business ethics, chairman, dinner, Mark Hurd, leadership

8 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Dunn and Dog
My money id on Dog the Bounty Hunter getting his life back to normal quicker.

All Dog has to do is find out which Mexican official needs his palm greased.

Dunn, OTOH, has to deal with a criminal justice system not so easily bought off.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Business ethics and Dunn
Her praise from business leaders coupled with the recent results of a poll that showed that business school students were the most likely to cheat shows the sorry state of business leaders in this country. Pathetic!
Posted by kchenderson (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We are all behind you Patty Dumb!
Problem is Patty is a typical female, sneaky, catty and catch the mouse any which way they can, even illegally. But of course following suite of HP anything goes in the business world. This why business's have to have laws limiting why a business can not have total control over an employee. Like telling an employee they can not sky dive or scuba dive (I know from one extreme to another). Business' only pay for 8 hours a day and that is all they are going to get. On the other hand, want to pay for 24 hours, then they can have total control of my actions off work.

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.
Posted by tech_no_man (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
pardon me
Toasted for breaking the law? Pardon me while I find a nice corner
in which to throw up.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tip of the iceberg
You've got to believe this happens all the time in corporate America
and HP just happened to get caught. What's hilarious is all the
other CEOs still honor her because they honestly can't see anything
wrong with what she did. Then she has the nuts to make a crack at
the pope and his anti-Muslim debacle. Are all business leaders paid
millions upon millions because they are just experts at talking
bullsh*t?!
Posted by Lucky Lou (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Meanwhile...
...at Versailles, Marie Antoinette and the aristocracy congratulated themselfs and stuffed their faces. While the masses gathered on the streets...
Posted by dgulbran (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a bad taste of humor
"Dunn capped her speech with a joke as well. She said 'it wouldn't hurt if the pope continued to make controversial comments'"

Now I know Dunn's taste of humor. Seems like she enjoy watching our christian brothers & sisters in the Middle East & Asia suffered because of the Pope's comment.
I know it wouldn't hurt you, Dunn, but it is a matter of life or death for us...
Posted by chnyoo (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dunn: "I'd like to thank all of those people..."
That made this award possible:
Richard Nixon
J. Edgar Hoover, Oh and J. that is a beautiful gown you have on tonight.
Al Capone
All of you in the KGB, you know who you are
The NSA and Homeland security
AT&T
And last but not least
George W. Bush for without his ethical leadership I would not have know it is acceptable to break laws and violate other's rights when you think it needs to be done and you're as high up in the food chain as us.

Thank you all and copies of your phone records and activities for the last year are available on the table on your way out tonight.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.