One of the saddest and perhaps most obvious parts of the HP scandal was their unfathomable decision to put the responsibilities of Director of Ethics in the hands of “a heretofore anonymous corporate lawyer,” Kevin Hunsaker.
Such different responsibilities: one to navigate the boundaries of The Law, one to help understand what’s ‘right.’ Case in point (from the San Francisco Chronicle):
Hunsaker reassured top executives that the processes used in the investigation were legal and above board.
‘It should be noted that, with respect to non-HP phone records, the Investigation Team utilized a lawful investigative methodology commonly utilized by entities such as law firms and licensed security firms in the United States to obtain such records,’ he wrote in a footnote in a report distributed to HP’s legal team and to Dunn and Hurd.
In a separate e-mail responding to concerns from HP general counsel Baskins, he said, ‘The Investigation Team is confident that all phone records information obtained during the course of the investigation was obtained in a lawful manner.’
In the same e-mail, Hunsaker acknowledged that the practice could soon be made illegal in some parts of the country. ‘On a going forward basis, this investigative tool will no longer be available to companies like HP during the course of these kinds of investigations,’ he said.
Perfectly legal. But ethical? An ethics officer taking the Fifth? What’s up with that?
What’s worse, Hunsaker was apparently rewarded with the Ethics position because of his fine work on the investigation, they say. Hmmm. I guess no one remembered to tell him which position was senior. Perhaps they didn’t know.