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Former gubernatorial candidate Whitman joins Hewlett-Packard Board of Directors

January 20, 2011 |  3:43 pm

Former EBay chief Meg Whitman, who has maintained an exceedingly low public profile since she lost the governor’s race in November, has been named to Hewlett-Packard’s Board of Directors, the company announced Thursday.

The firm was once led by Whitman's Republican ballot mate, former Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, who was fired after clashing with the board and members of the founding Hewlett and Packard families.

The appointment of five new members to the board, announced after the stock market closed for the day, comes as the company is trying to clear the board of those loyal to former chief executive officer Mark Hurd. He resigned from the company amid controversy and has since joined rival Oracle.

“Meg Whitman is a true visionary and thought leader who brings to the HP board unique experience in developing transformative business models, building global brands and driving sustained growth and expansion,” Raymond J. Lane, non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors, said in a press release.

Whitman led EBay for a decade, during which the startup online auction firm grew into a multibillion-dollar  global force. The billionaire then plunged into politics, first advising Mitt Romney's and John McCain’s 2008 presidential bids before making her own record-breaking run for office.

Whitman spent more than $141 million of her own money on her run, shattering records for both self-funding and for overall spending in a non-presidential race. Though she pummeled former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to secure  the GOP nomination, Whitman lost decisively to Democrat Jerry Brown in November.

Whitman has not spoken publicly since losing the race,  and declined to comment through a spokesman.

“She'll be taking assignments to some boards that are important companies to the future of California and the country,” said spokesman Rob Stutzman.

Former H-P chief executive Fiorina had no immediate comment. She has laid low since her November loss to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and, like Whitman, has not yet announced whether she sees a future in politics. The two candidates appeared together the day after their primary wins, and pledged to campaign together, but never did.

Others named to H-P’s board were Shumeet Banerji, chief executive officer of Booz & Co.; Gary Reiner, former chief information officer of General Electric Co. and a current special advisor to private equity firm General Atlantic; Patricia Russo, former chief executive officer of Alcatel-Lucent, and Dominique Senequier, chief executive officer of AXA Private Equity.

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles