Does California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's violent temper and bullying behavior run in the family? The billionaire ex-eBay CEO's son was charged with felony battery for breaking a woman's ankle after her friend said "Fuck you" and "Fuck your fraternity."
A 22-year-old woman named Valerie Sanchez was riding a bus to Palo Alto's Blue Chalk Cafe on the night of May 26, 2006 when she crossed paths with Griffith Rutherford Harsh V, Meg's eldest son and a notoriously delinquent sophomore at Princeton at the time. According to a police report filed later that night, Sanchez and her friends had mocked his fraternity and said "fuck you" and "fuck your fraternity" to him before Sanchez swiped Griff's baseball cap off his head. The altercation escalated when both parties arrived at Blue Chalk Cafe. According to Valerie's statement to the police, they were inside the bar when Griff "pushed" her "with two open hands on her chest and shoulder area." She fell down and felt her right ankle "snap." A nearby security guard witnessed the event and corroborated Valerie's version of the events.
In Griff's version, Valerie pushed him with two open hands, then stumbled and fell. But after being rushed to Stanford Hospital's emergency room, Valerie told police she had "absolutely not" attacked Griff physically, beyond the portentous baseball cap snatch. She was certain that 6'1", 195-lb. Griff had shoved her "deliberately."
Griff was charged with felony battery. The paperwork from his arrest identify him as "clean shaven" white man with a "hair style" of "punk."
The next morning, Meg Whitman, Griff's mother and then the CEO of eBay, posted Griff's $25,000 bail with a cashier's check and brought her son home. Nine court dates followed over the next year, but the charges were ultimately dismissed, although it's unclear why. We attempted to speak with Griff by phone, but he hung up on us. Meg Whitman's campaign didn't respond to our messages. The lawyer who handled Griff's case said he was not authorized to respond to our questions. A call to the alleged victim, Valerie Sanchez, was not returned.
This wasn't Griff's only brush with trouble. The Blue Chalk Cafe brawl occurred after his sophomore year at Princeton. Though he originally member of the class of 2008, he ended up graduating in 2009 after a year-long disciplinary probation, classmates say. Griff's disciplinary problems allegedly resulted in the university banning him from living on campus—an ironic punishment given that, at the same time, Princeton was using a $30 million donation from Meg Whitman to build splashy residential living complex Whitman College. And both Griff and his younger brother William earned reputations on campus for using their "billionaire" status to act inappropriately as they navigated Princeton's boozy eating club scene.
A political newcomer, Meg Whitman didn't register to vote until seven years ago because, she says, she "was focused on raising a family, on my husband's career, and we moved many, many times." Her husband's career went well—he's currently a neurosurgeon at Stanford—as did hers, clearly: Thanks to her stint running eBay, she earned a spot on Forbes' 2008 list of "World Billionaires," which listed her net worth as $1.3 billion. It's a fortune she's now using to finance her political career, having set aside $90 million of her own money to line her campaign's coffers.
As for "raising a family," Meg's sons are now grown: After graduating from Princeton in 2009, Griff now works for Romney family-operated financial firm Solamere Capital, which worked as "campaign consultants" for Whitman's campaign. Little brother Will Harsh will be a Princeton senior next year and appears poised to follow in his older brother's delinquent footsteps: Rumor has it Griff's elite eating club banned Will for using the N-word at a party.
The police report and court documents are below:
[Photo of Griffith Harsh via the Webby Awards Flickr Photostream. Photo of Whitman via Getty Images.]