A small group of Jewish leaders is calling for Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, to apologize for the company’s alleged sale of printers and other products to Iran through a distributor during her six-year tenure.
“Entering the holiday period, it’s time for truth telling,” Rabbi Steven Jacobs said during a press conference at the Federal Building in Westwood on Tuesday.
Fiorina’s campaign, however, says the allegations are not true.
Jacobs, rabbi emeritus of Temple Kol Tikvah and head of the Progressive Faith Foundation, said that HP, under Fiorina, undermined Israel’s security and important U.S. trade sanctions by doing business with Iran.
HP products were reportedly sold to Iran through a Dutch subsidiary and a Middle East distributor starting in 1997, two years after the United States imposed a ban on exports to the country. Fiorina worked for HP from 1999 to 2005.
In 2009, the Security and Exchange Commission sent a letter of inquiry to HP regarding the sales, but the company and Fiorina have not been charged with any violations. HP says it severed ties with Dubai-based distributor, Redington Gulf, last year.
Fiorina, who is challenging and is currently tied in polls with three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, returned from a trip to Israel Tuesday and has portrayed herself as pro-Israel.
“How can you say you’re pro-Israel [and] circumvent sanctions to do business with Iran?” said Andrew Lachman, former president of Democrats for Israel.
Fiorina’s senate campaign said the statements at the press conference, which was sponsored by the newly formed L.A. County Democratic Party group CEO Watch, were politically motivated and false. “It’s shameful that Barbara Boxer and her cronies would mislead this group of rabbis and make them the front men for nothing more than a political stunt,” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
This past week, Jacobs, former Jewish Community Relations Committee chair Howard Welinsky, Rabbi Linda Bertenthal and Cantor Ron Galperin signed an letter to Fiorina, asking her to use her Israel trip as an opportunity to apologize for HP’s previous business dealings with Iran. Jacobs reiterated his desire for an apology following the Sept. 7 press conference.
“I think it would make her campaign more valid,” he said.