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Packard heir travels to GOP convention to raise money for Carly Fiorina foe

March 13, 2010 |  9:03 am

An heir of one of the founders of Hewlett-Packard traveled west this weekend to rail against Republican Senate candidate and former HP chief Carly Fiorina -- and to raise money for one of Fiorina’s GOP primary opponents, Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

“Some of you may guess from my last name that I got involved in this initially because I was really scared we’d end up with Sen. Carly Fiorina,” said Arianna Packard, speaking to about 50 people late Friday night at the California Republican Party’s convention in Santa Clara. “That would be a disaster for California and a disaster for the country.”

The New York City resident is the granddaughter of David Packard, one of the founders of HP, and the daughter of David Woodley Packard, who fought Fiorina when she engineered the merger of HP and Compaq, a decision that partly led to Fiorina’s firing by the company’s board of directors in 2005.

Fiorina is in a tough three-way GOP race to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer. Both of her opponents -- DeVore and former Rep. Tom Campbell -- have been slamming her controversial tenure at Hewlett-Packard, where Portfolio magazine crowned her one of the 20 worst American chief executives of all time.

Packard previously made her preference in the race known by contributing to DeVore’s campaign, and when she wrote a scathing letter about Fiorina’s performance at HP that began, “I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded.”

That letter was directed at three Washington, D.C., senators who back Fiorina. In addition to criticizing stock price drops and layoffs during Fiorina’s reign, Packard criticized Fiorina's positions on Internet taxation, global warming, education, judicial nominations and affirmative action.

On Friday, speaking in front of an audience that included DeVore’s wife, Diane, and their two daughters, Packard said she initially opposed Fiorina, but was uncertain of what to do. But after reading DeVore’s speeches and positions, she decided he was the candidate to support.

“The more I saw, the more impressed I was,” Packard said, adding that she wanted to send a message to  Washington politicians: “Their establishment candidates aren’t going to win because people don’t want them and they have the wrong values and they have the wrong principles. Really strong candidates who support the Constitution and support the people like Chuck will win.”

Packard was joined at the fundraiser by her husband, Christopher Martell, and her mother, Pamela Packard.

Before the convention began, a Fiorina representative said she expected DeVore to “trot out Arianna Packard to attack Carly this weekend.”

“Of course it must be remembered that Arianna was never involved with HP when Carly was the CEO, but now enjoys all of the financial benefits of Carly’s foresight to move forward with the Compaq merger,” said Julie Soderlund, a spokeswoman for Fiorina. “Carly looks forward to meeting her at the convention.”

-- Seema Mehta

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