- Associated Press - Sunday, June 20, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is kicking off her general election campaign by slamming the $862 billion federal stimulus package that was supported by her opponent, Democrat Barbara Boxer.

This week, she made stops at a window-making plant near Fresno and an electrical contractor in Sacramento. It turns out that both had ties to the stimulus money - one advertising that customers could receive energy tax credits, the other receiving a big-dollar subcontract through the stimulus program.

There was another California business that also profited from the stimulus plan, one closer to Mrs. Fiorina’s personal story.

Federal data analyzed by the Associated Press show that Hewlett-Packard Co., where Mrs. Fiorina was chief executive from 1999 to 2005, has been paid $22.5 million so far in stimulus money distributed to cities, school districts, hospitals and universities across the country.

They in turn used the money to buy computers, laptops, servers and other equipment from the Silicon Valley computer giant that provided much of Mrs. Fiorina’s personal wealth.

The purchases were over the past year, long after Mrs. Fiorina left the company, but they illustrate the kind of benefit to private industry that Mrs. Fiorina says has been missing from the stimulus program.

Mrs. Fiorina refused to back down from her position that the federal stimulus program has done too little to create private-sector jobs.

“If you’re a business owner and there are stimulus dollars that might help your customers buy more of your product or help you, of course you’re going to accept the stimulus dollars,” she said Thursday to reporters during a campaign stop in Sacramento. “But that is not an argument that the stimulus package has worked. In fact, the stimulus package clearly, factually, manifestly, has failed because people are losing their jobs for every single dollar that’s out there.”

In Florida, the county of Miami-Dade purchased 26 HP servers for virtual desktop workstations. The city of Charlotte, N.C., purchased 93 HP laptops for police officers and 13 high-end laptops for crime analysts, according to the federal government data.

The Social Security Administration spent $1.2 million in stimulus dollars to purchase HP computers and monitors for its field offices. Indian Health Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides health care to Native Americans, spent $1.4 million on field office computers.

Marquette University in Wisconsin used nearly $500,000 from the National Science Foundation on a high-powered HP supercomputer that has the capacity of more than 1,000 desktop computers to help advance research, such as that done on cancer-treating drugs.

HP did not return a telephone and e-mail request for comment.

Mrs. Fiorina has made job creation the central theme of her campaign to unseat the three-term Democratic incumbent, believing that message will resonate in a state that has been stuck with an unemployment rate above 12 percent. That compares to a rate of 10.2 percent when the federal government began to release stimulus money in February 2009.

Criticizing the $862 billion stimulus package, which was supported by Mrs. Boxer, is one of her main points of attack. She says it has provided too few benefits.

On Thursday, she stopped at Rex Moore Electrical Contractors and Engineers in Sacramento, where the company’s human resources director said the electrical contracting company’s business is off by 40 percent.

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