Microsoft/DOJ Settlement Clouded by Unprecedented Lobbying

January 28, 2002
Journalist Concludes is Reward for Political Efforts

Washington, DC – Microsoft has engaged in a “pattern and practice of political influence peddling in many ways unprecedented in modern political history,” independent journalist and consultant Edward Roeder told the court overseeing the Microsoft antitrust trial today.

The independent submission, filed as part of Tunney Act proceedings for the proposed settlement between Microsoft and the Justice Department, was commissioned by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

Roeder outlines two key factors that raise significant concerns about Microsoft’s lobbying efforts:

  1. “Microsoft’s efforts are new. Their onset coincides with the time the government sued Microsoft and they have continue and escalated ever since;” and
  2. “Microsoft’s efforts are completely out of proportion to the rest of the high-technology industry.”

In an exhaustive review of public documents, campaign records, and media reports, Roeder uncovers Microsoft’s unparalleled corporate expenditures on federal and state campaigns, as well as charitable donations targeted to key allies in the antitrust case. Roeder determines that Microsoft’s stable of lobbyists is larger than even the few U.S. companies ten times the size of Microsoft.

Roeder went on to say that “Microsoft’s efforts to subvert democratic institutions such as political campaigns and debates, party organizations, news outlets, think tanks and government offices have been so vast as to be a new phenomenon, unenvisioned and unaddressed by existing political mechanisms intended to check the influence of special interests.”

“Limited campaign contributions can serve the purpose of encouraging, facilitating, extending and opening political discussion,” said Roeder. “But political money in such vast amounts is a substitute for politics, not a means of undertaking political action.”

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