This story has been updated:
CARLY for America – an independent committee supporting GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina – is setting the record straight on various news reports critical of Fiorina’s career during her time as CEO of Hewlett Packard, alleging a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton is behind the inaccurate reports.
“There is one person that is a common thread in most of these articles who is billed as a neutral analyst – even though he is anything but,” Leslie Shedd, press secretary for CARLY for America stated in an email.
Shedd wanted to shed light on the “complete lack of impartiality” that Shedd believes should be considered when the “next hit piece hits the newsstands.”
“Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a long-term friend and adviser to Bill Clinton, has been hard at work attempting to trash Carly Fiorina’s record at HP. In addition to writing his own opinion piece (and I stress the word opinion, as the piece was filled with factual inaccuracies and gross misrepresentations), he’s been quoted in several other opinion pieces,” Shedd stated.
Shedd alleges that Sonnenfeld “even went so far as to compare her to the captain of the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia, who was recently found guilty of manslaughter in the deaths of 32 people and is currently in Italian jail.”
“Because that’s the same as disagreeing with someone’s business decisions,” Shedd stated sarcastically, mocking Sonnenfeld’s comparison.
In order to beat any more “factual inaccuracies and gross misrepresentations,” CARLY for America is blasting out four key facts about Sonnenfeld’s position with Bill and Hillary Clinton in order to shed light on perceived bias.
FACT: Sonnenfeld and Bill Clinton have a long history of friendship that goes back decades. They were so close, then-President Clinton sent Sonnenfeld a personal letter of condolences after he lost his job at Emory as a result of some controversy.
FACT: At an conference the two attended annually, Clinton and Sonnenfeld spent time running together, where Sonnenfeld provided strategic advice to Bill Clinton.
FACT: Sonnenfeld has made it a habit to praise CEO’s who financially support his leadership institute, and trash those who don’t, leading to an in-depth expose by The New York Post.
- The New York Post: “Being friends with Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld certainly has its advantages. Three times in the past 16 months, Sonnenfeld has written opinion pieces or been quoted in the media supporting a company or CEO who was honored by his Chief Executive Leadership Institute or was a financial backer of his biannual CEO Summit, The Post’s research reveals.”
FACT: Sonnenfeld was caught defacing property at Emory University, where he was then serving as a professor. Not only was he forced to resign in disgrace, but a $200,000 a year offer with Georgia Tech was rescinded.
CARLY for America shared this information on its website.
Shedd noted that Clinton supporters going on the attack against Fiorina has become common since Fiorina has increased support in the GOP following her standout performance in the first GOP presidential primary debate.
“That’s because Hillary’s biggest supporters know that Carly is Hillary’s fiercest and most effective critic – so they will say anything, even if it’s untrue, to keep her off that debate stage with Hillary. And Sonnenfeld is no exception,” Shedd concluded.
Breitbart News reached out to Sonnenfeld for comment on this accusation by CARLY for America about his analysis.
In a detailed email, he told Breitbart News:
It would be false and damaging to suggest any of my critiques of corporate leaders are influenced by any financial support to Yale or to me personally – nor influenced by partisan politics. I enter areas of leadership conflict when I have relevant, knowledgeable perspective. Frequently, parties who do not want to address the issues I raise will instead try to change the subject by trying to discredit the source – shoot the messenger. I encourage you to contact such beacons of wise conservative thought as: Larry Kudlow, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed to attest to the objective nature of my public commentaries – not to mention parallel, the fact-anchored journalistic perspectives which the editorial leaders of Fortune, Forbes, and The New York Times, copied above would support.
Sonnenfeld stated that he found Fiorina’s “inaccurate response” to his “long standing concerns” about her career as CEO at HP “both amusing and disturbing.”
He also stated he has not had contact with the Clintons in roughly a decade.
“By her own admissions this is not a partisan matter,” Sonnenfeld stated in the email to Breitbart News. “She is trying to employ a standard device to discredit a source of inconvenient facts.”
Sonnenfeld, following Breitbart’s request for fair comment, sent an email with five points to defend his position as a fair analyst.
Sonnenfeld’s five points from the email are as follows:
First, these complaints over her leadership are facts which she cannot erase by attacking messengers:
- she sliced shareholder wealth in half in five years,
- increases in revenues through a failed merger did nothing to help profits at HP – but at other S&P companies were up an average of 70% and killed the stock price,
- the S&P 500 only dropped 17 percent during this period and some tech enterprises from Apple to Xerox soared, but under her at HP fell 53%,
- she was compensated over $100 million for this poor performance,
- HP’s stock popped up (7%) only when she was … fired,
- she was not a criminal nor one of the rogue CEOs of another era and may deserve another chance, but it is telling that in a decade, she has never been given another major company to lead
Second, I am hardly alone — these facts are widely reported currently and in the past. Does she accuse Forbes and other media of partisan bias?
- Forbes magazine (August 19, 2015) for their own independent, equally strong critique of Fiorina. Please see Susan Adams’ powerful parallel current indictment of Carly Fiorina’s leadership entitled “What Carly Fiorina’s Multiple Career Screw-Ups Say About Her Leadership Skills,”
- Forbes magazine (August 25) Jerry Weissman, “Carly Fiorina: Style over Substance,”
- Fortune (August 15, 2015) Alan Murray, CEO Daily,“Interestingly, it was the political parts of her CEO job that troubled Fiorina most. As I reported in my book Revolt in the Boardroom, Fiorina completely misread the discontent among her own board of directors, leading to the sudden showdown that cost her the job. Board member Patricia Dunn told me at the time that Fiorina was resistant to the board’s input and advice, and that directors were “hopelessly confounded by her organizational structure,”
- The New York Times (August 17) Andrew Ross Sorkin “Carly Fiorina’ s Record at HP Not So Sterling,”
- The Boston Globe (August 18) Annie Linsksy “HP Layoffs an Issue in Carly Fiorina’s GOP Campaign,”
- The Mercury News, (August 19th), Scott Herbert; “Grading Carly Fiorina’s Tenure at HP,”
- National Journal (February 13, 2015) Nancy Cooke “The Marketer: Carly Fiorina’s Audacious Sales Pitch,”
- Computer World (May 15, 2015) Matthew Finnegan, The Road from HP Pariah to Presidential Candidate,”
Third, as she acknowledged on NBC “Meet the Press,” I, along with scores of corporate governance experts, have raised challenges about her prominently failed performance leading HP for over a decade long before she became a politically active public figure.
Fourth, it was amusing to hear Carly Fiorina refer to me as a close advisor to Bill Clinton. I am not. This title would be a surprise to genuine close past Clinton advisors including; George Stephanopoulos; Rahm Emmanuel; Mark Penn; James Carville; and Paul Begala. I never had any formal role with any Clinton campaigns or the Clinton administration. I believe I have had no personal contact with Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton or their staffs in at least a decade.
Fifth, I am close to many Republican officials and impressed with the leadership accomplishment as well as the character of several current primary candidates. She is not one of them. Similarly, there are many very impressive, distinguished, accomplished top Republican women leaders, such as Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina; former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Senator Susan Collins; and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Carly Fiorina is not one of them.
“Experience can be a badge of honor or a badge of shame. The reckless Captain Francesco Schettino who shipwrecked Carnival’s Costa Concordia in 2012 off the coast of Tuscany was one of the first to abandon ship leaving behind thousands of passengers. He will never be trusted with a public leadership role. Captains of industry must also be accountable,” Sonnenfeld concluded.