Congress Asks HP Execs to Testify

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday expanded its probe into the Hewlett-Packard press leak scandal by asking several people involved to testify at a hearing on the matter scheduled for September 28. Among those asked to testify are chairwoman Patricia Dunn and general counsel Ann Baskins, as well as two people outside of HP.

All four have been asked to appear at the hearing, and the testimony would be part of a larger seven-month investigation into "pretexting," or the process of impersonating a person to gain access to information that is not available without the victims consent.

The hearing appears to be solely focused on HP's own actions, as the committee has titled it "Hewlett-Packard's Pretexting Scandal." It would be chaired by Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield, who is the head of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

At this time, appearance is voluntary, although Congress has subpoena power if it wishes to force those involved to testify. Such action seems unlikely, however, as HP has indicated that it would cooperate fully with all investigations.

Friday's news follows several other developments in the matter. Late last week, the California attorney general's office indicated it was investigating the matter after media reports said the company had hired an outside broker to peer into the phone records of both HP directors, as well as at least nine journalists.

On Monday, the DOJ announced it was launching its own investigation into the matter, and the resulting fallout from the legal inquires cost chairwoman Patricia Dunn her job on Tuesday. Later that night on PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer indicated he had sufficient evidence to charge HP executives and their outside contractors.

In addition to the investigations discussed above, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI have also launched their own inquiries into the matter. HP has declined to say whether it would push Dunn and Baskins to testify at the hearing, although it repeated it is cooperating fully with the authorities.

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