So here’s a thing: You know how, on her first day in office, Carly Fiorina would call the Supreme Leader of Iran and tell him the nuke deal is off? If that happens (it won’t), chances are good the Supreme Leader’s transcript of that call would be printed with a Hewlett-Packard printer, since while Carly Fiorina was CEO of HP, the company “sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of products to Iran through a foreign subsidiary, despite strict U.S. export sanctions,” according to a column by Josh Rogin in BloombergView. Good thing Fiorina knows how to make tough deals!
Way back in 1995, Bill Clinton issued executive orders banning U.S. companies from dealing with Iran, what with the whole support for terrorism thing. But while Fiorina was running the company from 1999 to 2005, HP found a clever loophole:
Hewlett-Packard used a European subsidiary and a Middle East distributor to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of printers and other computer equipment to Iran.
HP’s unusual omnipresence inside Iran was first reported in 2008 by the Boston Globe, which discovered that in 1997 the company struck up a partnership with a new Indian company in Dubai called Redington Gulf. The partnership was so successful distributing in Iran that HP printers were No. 1 there, with 41 percent of the market share by 2007.
See, that’s way different from ruining HP! After that Boston Globe piece ran, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked HP what the heck was up with that stuff, and HP explained that while it did sell over $120 million in HP products to Redington Gulf, and sure, it did get distributed in Iran, the whole deal was done through an HP subsidiary in the Netherlands, so no way was HP violating the sanctions, as long as nobody in the USA was running the deal or even knew about it. It’s a big company, and who even knows what those Dutch are doing, with their hash bars and their Royales with Cheese.
In 2009, when she and her demon sheep were getting ready to run for the Senate the next year, Fiorina denied knowing anything about HP sales to Iran. Her Senate campaign spokeswoman at the time, Beth Miller, issued a statement saying, “It is illegal for American companies to do business in Iran. To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws.” So there you go, she’s completely in the clear.
Or maybe not completely, since, as the San Jose Mercury-News reported in 2009:
In 1999, after she took over at HP, the company’s Middle East general manager was quoted in a United Arab Emirates English-language newspaper calling Iran “a big market for Hewlett-Packard printers” and noting sales growth in the country was 50 percent. Fiorina herself in 2003 cited the Middle East as a growth region amid flagging sales elsewhere (she did not mention Iran specifically).
After that SEC inquiry, HP broke off its relationship with Redington Gulf. Fiorina decided, as the 2010 campaign went on, that maybe she could polish that Iran turd into a Freedom-n-Democracy-Through-Technology talking point, telling an Israeli magazine with the actual real name Lady Globes that all it was selling in Iran was “printer ink” and that HP had done so “in full compliance with American export laws.” And besides, if it weren’t for communication technology being sold in Iran, the Iranian people wouldn’t be able to get the truth out to the West, like stories of women being stoned to death for adultery:
This is how we know that this regime kills demonstrators and tortures political activists. The knowledge that we gain about was going on there is important. It gives us a human face on a brutal regime.
So I think in addition to crippling sanctions on the regime, we should be encouraging elements of political reform inside Iran, and one of the ways to do that is by selling communication in and out.”
And to that end, while Fiorina was in charge, HP also lobbied Congress for Iran sanctions reform, because while cracking down on a brutal dictatorship is important, so is moving product. Besides, you can’t make nuclear weapons out of printer ink, can you?
Rogin also spoke to Richard Nephew, a former sanctions coordinator at the State Department and NSC who helped negotiate the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, who said that while HP was selling to Iran through its foreign holdings, “it was ambiguous to many people as to whether it was illegal or not … They were adhering to the letter but not the spirit, if it was at the direction of the parent company that this was done.”
Also too, Nephew said the notion that Fiorina was unaware of the company’s dealings in Iran was “kind of laughable,” which should make for some fun follow-up questions at Wednesday’s Republican primary debate.
You sort of have to feel bad for Carly Fiorina. Turns out there was one chunk of HP’s business that she wasn’t running into the ground, and she can’t even brag about that.