The Hightower Report

Dell Twists in the Wind; and Driver's Double Dip

Dell Twists in the Wind

As any family court judge can tell you, divorce cases can be explosive. But for powerful courtroom confrontations, human divorces have nothing over the legal conflagrations that erupt when one corporation has been wronged by another.

Take the case of corporate betrayal that Advanced Internet Technologies has brought against Dell, the giant computer corporation. Now in its third year of litigation, AIT's lawsuit accuses Dell of selling at least 11.8 million faulty personal computers to business customers, then engaging in a companywide cover-up of the problems.

Earlier in the case, it was revealed that Dell's rank-and-file employees knew that the corporation was churning out PCs that were likely to break down, and AIT unearthed an internal e-mail showing that CEO Michael Dell himself was informed of both the flaw and the effort to hide it from investors, customers, and the media. Of course, the e-mail didn't stop the computers from malfunctioning at an unprecedented rate, and angry customers grew angrier as Dell kept dodging its responsibility for fixing the machines. Amazingly, the PC peddler even tried to stiff the law firm it had hired to battle AIT's lawsuit! The firm had 1,000 of Dell's dicey computers, and the company was refusing to fix them until the law firm threatened to sue its own client. Not even Law & Order would come up with a plot twist that perverse.

Yet, in another twist, it now appears that Dell has deliberately violated a court order to release internal e-mails written by top executives, including Michael Dell. Rather than providing the full texts, AIT is accusing the corporation of delivering only a few snippets that look to be altered and incomplete.

So, with added accusations of evidence tampering, it seems that Dell itself is slowly twisting in the legal wind. Stay tuned!

Driver's Double Dip

The great state of Georgia is famous for its peanuts, but I still say that my state of Texas produces the most extraordinary goobers of them all.

As proof, I submit Joe Driver, a Republican state representative from the Dallas area. You can't get any more gooberish than Joe.

Until recently, most Texans had never heard of Driver, even though he's been in the Lege for nearly two decades and is a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee, which doles out Texas tax dollars. His oversight of state spending is relevant to his gooberness, because he recently burst into public consciousness over a rather basic error in accounting, not to mention a gross case of financial ethicalitis.

It seems that Driver, who regularly rails against big-spending liberals and demands stringent cutbacks in our miserly state budget, has for years been routinely billing taxpayers for travel expenses – at least $17,400 – that his political fund had already covered, including airline tickets, fancy meals, and luxury out-of-state hotels. He would pay for these costs with campaign funds, then submit the same expenses to the state and merrily slip the taxpayer reimbursement into his own pocket.

Now comes the amazing part. This double-dipping goober insists that he didn't know it was wrong to collect payment from two entities for the same expense! Apparently, Driver's mom never taught him the "play fair" lesson as a boy.

When confronted by an Associated Press reporter about his curious bookkeeping, Driver claimed that the State Ethics Commission had OK'd it years ago, though he couldn't say who or when. He added that he is apoplectic that his double-billing scheme has turned out to be stupid, unethical, and illegal. "It pretty well screws my week," he sighed.

Come on, Georgia, try to match Joe Driver for pure gooberness.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Dell, Michael Dell, Advanced Internet Technologies, Joe Driver

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