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A Closer Look at Citizen Whitman

Posted on Sep 9, 2010
Eric Draper / Meg Whitman for Governor 2010

Meg Whitman makes an August appearance at the Antelope Valley Fair in Lancaster, Calif.

By David Coleman

(Page 2)

Her Wealth Enabled Her to Use a Private Judge

When it comes to embracing the public judicial processes designed to determine whether wrongs have been committed against others, this was not the first time Whitman sought to avoid involvement. Based on an incident in her past (revealed a few months ago during the primary campaign), one would think that Whitman might be particularly sensitive to society’s interest in fair legal adjudications when a person is accused of assaultive wrongdoing.

In such situations there needs to be an inquiry into the truth of the accusation. And if the allegation is admitted or found to be true, there may be a need for public input about the penalty to be paid or any recompense owed by the transgressing offender. This should be recognized by Whitman of all people since, you see, she has been the target of such an accusation of wrongdoing.

While presiding over her eBay empire, an employee approached Whitman with some work information that displeased Whitman. She responded by physically assaulting the employee. Whitman’s conduct—instead of being alleged as the crime of assault or battery as might happen to ordinary people outside the office suites of eBay—was the subject of a civil lawsuit instead of a criminal case. 

Had her attorneys not arranged for mediation by a private judge, Whitman’s behavior toward the employee in the incident could have been a part of a civil lawsuit in a San Mateo County courtroom. Lawsuits between litigants who cannot afford private judges might be tried before a jury like the one for which Whitman’s services were sought.

The employee, Young Mi Kim, was preparing Whitman for a news media interview that day. Kim, who was not injured in the incident, hired a lawyer and threatened a lawsuit, but the dispute was resolved under the supervision of a private mediator.

Two of the former employees said the company paid a six-figure financial settlement to Ms. Kim, which one of them characterized as “around $200,000.” An agreement to keep the matter confidential was also part of the settlement, and the authorities were not involved.
—Brad Stone, “Settlement Was Paid in Whitman Shoving Incident,” New York Times, June 14, 2010 (emphasis added)


People without the means of Meg Whitman to channel their legal disputes into a private system frequently suffer the indignity that the “authorities are involved.”

The point in discussing the Whitman incident is not the distemper shown. Rather, the point is that when such a misdeed was alleged against Whitman, she used her wealth and attorneys to ensure that the public justice system—which utilizes juries and elected judges—played no role in the resolution of legal proceedings conducted secretly behind closed doors. 

California voters can all wonder whether, if elected, Whitman will have more confidence in our state’s public judicial system than she had when her own behavior and treasure might have been on trial.

Too Busy to Vote

None of Whitman’s reluctance about personal involvement in California’s judicial processes might have much resonance were it not for another instance of her lack of personal commitment to California public life in a way that has been well documented: Whitman did not vote for many years.

“How bad is Meg Whitman’s voting record?”

In Whitman’s own words: “Atrocious.”

A Bee review found Whitman for years regularly skipped elections in California and several other states where she lived and worked before deciding to run for governor.

—Andrew McIntosh, “How bad is Meg Whitman’s voting record?” Sacramento Bee, March 2, 2010


On this score, of course, she is no different from Carly Fiorina, the other high-profile businesswoman running for statewide office—the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Barbara Boxer. Millions of Californians, whom they seek to represent, have found the time to vote throughout their lives. However, as aspiring leaders in the business world neither of the two statewide Republican standard-bearers could take a few moments from their busy day to go to a polling place or fill out an absentee ballot for mailing. But now, having earlier shown little interest in the “public service” of voting to select our political leaders, they profess their newly found commitment to public service as one of those leaders.

What Her Choices Reveal About Her Worldview

Whitman does not appear to share the belief that a political leader should share in some kind of kinship of sacrifice with the voters. Whitman’s “nonvoting” record, as well as her avoidance of other public aspects of life such as jury duty, demonstrate that none of these failures to participate are momentary lapses. Instead they demonstrate a solipsistic absorption in her own drive to succeed and a deep-seated indifference to any public service that she believes is beneath her station in life.

Leona Helmsley famously noted that only the “little people pay taxes.” Whitman, it would seem, shares that Helmsley worldview when it comes to similar public obligations of citizenship like serving on juries and voting.

After Whitman obtained her excuse from having to serve as a juror, fortunately—for the people of the state who want to see state laws protecting children from child molesters enforced in courtrooms that require jurors for their function—there were still some “little people” left in the venire from which a jury could be empaneled. 

For a number of days in the coming weeks, one of those “little people” will sit in silence in the jury box (in the seat that might have been Whitman’s) listening to the evidence. That juror will be doing so during days of absence from her workplace; or, if she works at home,  after patching together a network of relatives and neighbors to care for her children or elderly parents as she reports to the courtroom each day. That little person—who replaced Whitman in the jury box—will be performing the public service that candidate Whitman was too distracted, she herself avowed, to perform. For the juror left behind to serve in Whitman’s place, it too will have been “not a good time for me to give 100 percent” as Whitman complained.

But there will soon come a November Tuesday morning when all California voters—not unlike the juror who had to occupy the seat Whitman avoided this week—will have a chance to decide whether to elect Whitman governor. When that moment comes, perhaps the voters will decide that a history of committed participation versus studied indifference toward the obligations of citizenship in California should be a factor in their decision about how to cast a vote.


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By tedmurphy41, September 15, 2010 at 1:20 am Link to this comment

Don’t tell me that you have no talented working class people able to stand for this elective position; or is the question really whether you can “afford” to stand as a candidate in this ‘democratic’ election??

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By ocjim, September 12, 2010 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Re the 24/7 negative ads against Jerry Brown and Democrats over an interminable period of our lives, how would Meg Whitman rate as our governor?

For an easy assessment of Meg Whitman, we need only look at Meg Whitman’s past attitude about public service.

We might excuse her for not voting over a 28 year period, when she says she was too busy taking care of her husband and children. However, we must note her response last week when asked to serve on a child-molestation jury. This is “not a good time for me to give 100 percent,” she said.

It might not be a good time for her, but her saying it continues to show her obvious lack of commitment to public service. One might wonder if that would be her attitude about serving the people—at least when it suits her—should she win the election over Jerry Brown.

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By Hammond Eggs, September 12, 2010 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Meg Whitman, the former eBay empress, is the Republican candidate running for governor of California. We can only assume she wants that office so she can provide a public service for the citizens of California.

Mr. Coleman is being facetious, isn’t he?  Whitman wants the job for the same reason(s) any of these sociopaths want power.

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By ardee, September 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, September 9 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment


Seems to me our election system is already a mockery, one may suggest Whitman is only a tip of the iceberg.

Sadly true, yet it behooves us, I think, to point out the gross injustice of bought and paid for elections, and do so at every opportunity.

One reason I register and vote Green ( though I am not one at heart) is to support those pledged to refuse the bushels of corporate money that comes with such strings attached.

As to Hogs, I have only one summer worth of experience raising, feeding and “slopping ” those somewhat noble creatures. Smarter, by far, than dogs, but damnable hard to butcher.

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By - bill, September 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

If there are SIGNIFICANT reasons not to support Whitman for governor of California (and my guess would be that there are), why did you fail to list them and thus simply add to the lack of substance that is so emblematic of politics these days?

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By srelf, September 10, 2010 at 11:35 am Link to this comment


Her answer was truthful, but it was also selfish. That’s the difference.

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By SteveL, September 10, 2010 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

Citizen Whitman has spent over $100 million on a job that pays less than $170 per year.  She campaigns on fiscal responsibility and no one’s B.S. warning light goes off?

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By Robin, September 10, 2010 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The point you make in the second-last paragraph is an excellent one. Thanks for a great article.

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By felicity, September 10, 2010 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

Well, Republican Arnold has done such a great job as
governor that it makes perfect sense to elect another
Republican to fill the spot.

Here’s the question:  Why is a woman willing to spend
zillions of her own dollars securing a job that pays
what, about two-hundred grand/year?  Answer?

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By Money is funny, September 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

What happened here? The people who profited from real estate prostitution in CA were mostly from other states. Will the dumping ground for industry continue in my community? I would rather vote for the man who manages craigslist than this lady personally.

The reality of life for most people in this state is nothing like what you have seen in your tourist bait marketing propaganda magazines for a long time.

I am so completely disenfranchised at this point that this whole election looks like putting a different face on a steamy pile of dung.

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By G.Anderson, September 9, 2010 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

Probably, the one thing that progressives hate most of all about Whitman, is that she’s probably going to win.

Because basically, the office of governor is for sale. Don’t kid yourself, it’s not about political point of view, or agenda, or who can do the most for Californian’s, but who has the most cold hard cash.

Because you see, the cold hard truth is both progressives, and conservatives are responsible for what happened to California. And because, both these political parties have ideologies and political belief systems that are antideluvian, they are incapable of doing anything to change things.

All they can do is watch, and shout at each other. Their words have as much importance as Dogs barking at each other from opposite street corners. 

If Whitman wins, the decline will probably be faster for the working poor, and those on welfare. If Brown wins, the middle class migration out of California will probably speed up.

But in the end, it will all come to the same thing.

Bankrupcy for Californa. The state simply cannot survive real estates return to 1970 levels. Ultimately there is nothing on God’s green earth that can stop it.

Except maybe, the whole sale selling off of California real estate to foreign investors at 5 cents on the dollar.

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By Jack, September 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are many great reasons for objecting to Whitman as governor, but the fact that she gave a truthful answer to a question during jury selection is certainly not one of them. Let’s get real about politics.

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By Leefeller, September 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment


Seems to me our election system is already a mockery, one may suggest Whitman is only a tip of the iceberg.

Moonbeam seems down to earth when comparing him to most moneybags politicians, those seeking or already in so called public office. Being a farmer I vision most politicians as hogs; (my apologies to hogs) running to the feed trough,..... pork-barrels are another thing!

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By Inherit The Wind, September 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

I’m no Republican and I can’t imagine ever voting for a Republican again, but an honest answer about jury being the FIRST point of attack?  Give me a break!  NOBODY wants to sit on a child molestation case!  I almost got on one but the defense’s attorney was getting rid of all the White men and the prosecutor was getting rid of all the Black men, in the last bastion of racism and sexism.  The prosecutor wanted an all-White (or at least non-Black) jury and the defense wanted an all-Black jury.  I watched them trying to cull—until I was let go.  This was despite the fact that the judge, defense and defendant were all Black and the prosecutor was Latina. Were they individually racist? I don’t know but functionally they were acting as racists.

Still, attacking Whitman for her honest answer about jury service seems really lame to me.

As for hitting an employee, that means she’s as nuts as Sarah Palin or Naomi Campbell.

And not voting?  How can you claim any sense of civic duty and not ego with that?

Meanwhile, I’d like to see Gerry Brown back in the Governor’s chair.  I think he’s just as dedicated but a better politician and manager now than he was in the past.

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By glider, September 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment

All I know for sure was that Ebay was run into the ground.  In its prime it was “buyer centric”, place where the public could survey historical selling prices and bid with confidence in a fair auction environment.  “Management” changed that quickly and made Ebay “seller centric” by blocking access to their historical sell price data to appease their seller base for short term gains.  So the buying public has rightfully abandoned Ebay and it has become a shadow of its past self.  Rather, than an open auction environment it has turned into a 2nd class micro retailer environment with little growth going forward.  So why would anyone want to hire for Governor such a proven failure?

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By squeaky jones, September 9, 2010 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whitman is a part of the group of rich who just buy their way into office. Just like Dino Rossi in the state of Washington, they made their money off the misery of others, and only surface from under the cold dark rock that they live when there is a political office open. Their charade is clear, pretend to care while they make off with the peoples money, and destroying the common good.

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By ardee, September 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

I have a personal liking for “Governor Moonbeam” as Jerry Brown was known during his days in Sacramento. But there is a second reason for hoping Whitman fails to win office. The fact that she has spent almost one hundred million dollars of her own money to buy that office simply reeks of elitism and makes a mockery of our electoral system.

Normally I would vote Green or another third party as is my penchant but on this one I will cast my vote for Brown, though a full disclosure requires noting that he is spending about 35 million, not his own of course.

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By The Donkey Edge, September 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

How can Whitman ask Californians to vote for her when she didn’t bother to vote for 28 years?

Courage Campaign and the California Nurses Association want people to know more about her “atrocious” voting record so they asked us to create this video for them:

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