A crucial witness in the Oracle v California State contract inquiry has dramatically refused to testify voluntarily just as fresh emails reveal that he had urged Oracle to pay donations to key politicians – both friendly and hostile.
Oracle lobbyist Ravi Mehta was due to give evidence at the California State inquiry into a $95 million contract row, but declined to give testimony. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee immediately announced it would subpoena Mehta to compel him to give evidence. "The documentary evidence is clear - Mr. Mehta was intimately involved with the deal,” said committee chairman Dean Florez.
Two subpoenas have been issued. One requires Mehta to testify at 1pm on Friday and to be available Monday and Tuesday while the second requires him to produce all e-mail and other documents related to the contract by 5 p.m. on Friday.
It is alleged that Mehta asked Robert Hoffman, director of legislative affairs at Oracle, to "make contributions to a number of individuals who are presently in office or running in safe seats and will be elected to the California legislature next year." It’s already been established that Mehta handed over a $25,000 for Governor Gray Davis’s election campaign after the Oracle contract had been signed.
Mehta is the author of an email which lists nine California politicians and gives reasons why he wants Oracle to give them money. Oracle insists that it did not act on Mehta’s recommendations, although it admits that it paid him to come up with just such suggestions. Oracle vice-president Ken Glueck said: "It seemed like it was a good use of leverage to ask Mr. Mehta to do some work for us. I think in hindsight it was probably a mistake."
One politician is described by Mehta as having been “extremely good to Oracle in the past, particularly when the Enterprise License Agreement was discussed in the Tech. Committee in August" while another was said to have been “helpful to us during the audit debate”.
But it wasn’t only those politicians that were supportive of Oracle that Mehta wanted to give money to. Another was described as having been hostile to the licence agreement and to have indicated that Oracle’s partner in the deal Logicon “may have been involved in activity that could be potentially criminal.”
Mehta had a contract with Oracle's sales department since 1998 and a contract with itsgovernment affairs since 2000. He resigned from all contracts with Oracle on 31 May 2002, one year to the day after the California contract was signed.