Whitman's former boss won't endorse her

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 23, 2010, 11:27am


SACRAMENTO (Legal Newsline) -- The eBay founder who hired Meg Whitman, now California's Republican gubernatorial candidate, as his company's chief operating officer says he won't endorse her.

Pierre Omidyar praised Whitman's leadership skills and said she would do a "great job" if elected, but said he would find it "difficult" to vote for her if he still lived in California. Omidyar said he can't endorse her because of her opposition to same-sex marriage and her alliance with former Gov. Pete Wilson.

"Now I have not endorsed her because we have some differences on some of the political issues," Omidyar, who is now based in Hawaii, told Bloomberg TV in an interview that aired Wednesday on "InBusiness with Margaret Brennan."

The eBay founder said he was particularly disappointed in her alignment with Wilson on immigration issues.

"I think we are a little bit apart, and I can't quite support her because of that," Omidyar said in the interview.

Wilson, who is now a co-chairman of Whitman's campaign, was a vocal supporter of a 1994 ballot measure that would have stripped taxpayer-funded benefits from illegal immigrants. Whitman was not living in California in 1994 but has said she would have opposed that measure, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Whitman said she supported 2008's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. As governor, she said, she would go to court to back the measure, according to the newspaper.

The eBay founder has avoided weighing in on Whitman's candidacy until now. According to the Times, the billionaire philanthropist has a lengthy history of donating to Democratic politicians, but has supported a handful of Republicans as well.

Omidyar, who wrote the computer code for what became eBay when he was 28, had nothing but praise for Whitman's decade-long tenure at the company.

"She is a fantastic executive. She did a great job at eBay," he said in the television interview. "Her real skill is using data to inform strategic decisions, and bringing teams together, putting the right people in the right jobs at the right time."

He also pledged to "absolutely" work with Whitman if she is elected governor.

"I think she would do a great job," he said. "And I would work, of course, to change her mind on some of these other issues."

Whitman issued a gracious statement following Omidyar's remarks.

"Pierre is a close friend and I greatly enjoyed working with him at eBay for 10 years. While we disagree on some issues, I appreciate his acknowledgement that I would do a great job as governor," she said. "That means a lot to me. After spending many years working together growing a company, he knows better than anyone the leadership I can bring to Sacramento."

The Republican, who became a billionaire during her time at eBay, has put $119 million of her wealth into her campaign, making her the largest self-funding candidate in U.S. history.

She faces her Democratic opponent, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, in the Nov. 2 election.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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