We think California voters have a right to understand exactly what happened in the "shoving incident" reported Tuesday.
In this incident, eBay CEO Meg Whitman reportedly berated her PR person for being unprepared for a meeting and then, depending on who is describing the events, either "shoved" or "physically guided" her from the room.
The incident was serious enough that eBay or Meg (reportedly eBay) later paid the employee ~$200,000 to make the incident go away.
Now, it's possible that the employee, Young Mi Kim, WAS unprepared for the meeting, and in the interests of defending herself and re-directing the blame, exaggerated or made up what happened.
But given the size of the settlement, it's also possible that Meg snapped.
And given that what led to the incident appears to have a been a routine interview-prep session and that running California will likely lead to far more stressful situations--it is reasonable for voters to ask some questions here. With the state deep in a financial crisis, tensions are running high, and you don't want a chief executive who might suddenly lose control. (Of course, you may also not want Jerry Brown).
So here are the questions we forwarded to Meg's campaign folks yesterday. We have yet to get a response:
Which is a more accurate description of the physical contact between Meg and Ms. Kim: "Shoved" (Ms. Kim's word) or "Physically guided from the room" (Meg's, as described by the NYT).
What was it that caused Meg to snap in this situation? (I've been in business for two decades, and I've never heard of a CEO shoving or "physically guiding" an employee from a room in anger)
When did Meg realize she had done something wrong (and try to apologize)? Immediately? Or after she was informed that Ms. Kim had left work?
Was there something else going on at the time that added to Meg's tension level at this time, or was this just routine workplace tension? If the latter, what is Meg's explanation for why she behaved this way?
How was the $200,000 settlement arrived at? Did eBay pay it? If so, why?
Does Meg often lose control in situations like this? Or was this an isolated incident?