Ride-sharing giant Uber has hired former Associate Attorney General Tony West as its Chief Legal Officer because “he’s well equipped to handle the investigations of our past practices,” according to an email from Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
West is at the center of a burgeoning scandal involving $1 billion collected by the government from big banks as settlements in mortgage-fraud cases. The money was not used to compensate victims or turned over to the Treasury. Instead, it was diverted to left-wing activist groups and political allies of the Obama administration. West served in the Justice Department from 2009 until 2014 when he joined PepsiCo.
Reaction to the looting of the settlements has been such that the House passed legislation this week that would prohibit payments to private third parties from settlement monies. The Justice Department had already adopted a policy barring such payments.
Khosrowshahi’s email also asserted:
And at Pepsi, he has emphasized diversity on his team and across the company. But perhaps most importantly, Pepsi has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies 10 years in a row. Under Tony’s leadership, I’m confident that we will one day join this list.
It’s probably no accident that Khosrowshahi mentions “diversity” and “ethics” in the same breath. In corporate America today, “ethics” is used as euphemism for political correctness. In West’s case, it seems not to matter to Uber that West may have helped misappropriate vast sums of money just as long he holds the “right” political views. Khosrowshahi’s email betrays not one hint of self-consciousness about hiring West at the exact same instant he is in the headlines for administering a slush fund.
As we have pointed out for almost a decade, PepsiCo under CEO Indra Nooyi has been operated in anything but an ethical manner. Nooyi has violated her fiduciary duty to her shareholders and ignored the diversity of her customers and employees by imposing her personal political views on the entire company.
Following the election of Donald Trump, Nooyi was candid about how dimly she views her adopted country even as it has made her fantastically wealthy:
I had to answer a lot of questions from my daughters, from our employees. They were all in mourning. Our employees were all crying. The question that they are asking, especially those who are not white ‘Are we safe?’, women are asking ‘Are we safe?’, LGBT people are asking ‘Are we safe?’.
West fit right in at the Obama Justice Department and at PepsiCo. He should fit in well at Uber, too, but his hiring will do nothing to rescue the company’s management from its credibility crisis.
Here’s Khosrowshahi’s email:
From: Dara Khosrowshahi
Subject: Welcoming our new Chief Legal Officer
As you all know, finding a strong legal partner has been one of my top priorities. So I’m thrilled to announce that Tony West will be joining us from Pepsi as Chief Legal Officer beginning next month.
Tony is exactly what Uber needs now. He has public company experience leading a global team of lawyers across more than 200 countries. As a former federal prosecutor and senior Department of Justice official in the Obama Administration, he’s well equipped to handle the investigations into our past practices. And at Pepsi, he has emphasized diversity on his team and across the company. But perhaps most importantly, Pepsi has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies 10 years in a row. Under Tony’s leadership, I’m confident that we will one day join this list.
I want to close by thanking Salle for all of her hard work in helping build Uber into the incredible company that touches so many drivers and riders all over the world. She has been a great partner as I’ve gotten up to speed over the past (almost) two months. I especially appreciate all that Salle is doing to ensure that Tony’s transition is as smooth as possible.
Please join me in congratulating Tony and wishing Salle well in her post-Uber life (I’d imagine a vacation for her is in order!).