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Details of MSFT's Antitrust Lobbying

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the stuff-to-read dept.

Microsoft 711

An anonymous sent in linkage to "A new ZDNet article detailing new evidence presented to the judge presiding over the Microsoft anti-trust case. It shows that Microsoft made political contributions during last year's (well, 2000's) elections on a scale never seen before... over $6 million. As comparison, this is four times the amount spent by Enron. It also reveals that Microsoft has been hiring every political lobbyist, and every law firm, with anti-trust expertise and putting them to work on unrelated projects- anything to make them unavailable to work for critics of Microsoft."

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fp (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999581)

M$ SUCKS

nuff said.

Congratulations sir! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999602)

Racing ahead in the First Post marathon I see. Inherit my mantle and surpass my achievements.

Re:fp (4, Insightful)

rm-r (115254) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999614)

Political donations, especially soft money, SUCK.

Parties should be limited as to how much they can spend during a campaign (as they are in Europe) and should maybe even be paid for through taxation- it would cost less thant 1% of the military budget and is a far bettter way of safeguarding democracy.

Re:fp (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999659)

And how would that benefit the politicians? I'm sorry, but they are the ones in power, and for several decades, the western democracies have been slipping more into a situation where it doesnt really matter who gets elected, because there is nobody representing the voters available for election.

Cooperating politicians in a democracy win over the voters every time. And they've realized that.

Re:fp (-1)

gdiersing (240179) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999676)

1% of the Military budget and I (and a few thousand of my closest friends) could spend the rest of my days on our own private island with a never ending string of sex, drugs, and high speed internet.

Re:fp (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999722)

yeah that would be great dumbass. Then guess who controls the elections? Hmmm - who has control of all the ways most of the electorate hears things? Maybe AOL-TimeWarner can just sponsor the next election. Or how about the ABC/Disney Presidential debates. Hell it is already virtually like that.

There is a reason the press loves campaign finance and not just because they are liberals - it's because candidate and party-bought ads are competition. If candidates are limited from buying ads then the media controls the issues that are discussed and what we all hear about. And of course the democrats have less to lose because they will still get the benefit of NAACP and union ads, plus the general liberal leanings of the media. Of course, conservatives will have occasional advantages since there are certain stories that the corporate media don't want to talk about. Guess what - I'd prefer outright propaganda ads to the subtle control of elections by major media.

Good for them! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999585)

At least they're giving money. All Linux advocates can offer are their splayed anuses!

Fist Sport!

Finally... (1, Redundant)

cyclist1200 (513080) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999591)

I think we all kind of knew this, but it's nice to see someone is looking at the numbers, especially with the campaign contributions.

Re:Finally... (0, Insightful)

Indras (515472) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999607)

I think we all kind of knew this, but it's nice to see someone is looking at the numbers, especially with the campaign contributions.

Not to mention this is also sickening that this continues to go on. The average person has a shit-fit when they hear that someone in the government does something illegal like this, but here it is obvious that Microsoft has more power than that. They have budget books big enough to make six million dollars disappear, very few other companies do. It's time that the public learned of this.

I don't think we'll have another Enron, but something big, nonetheless (hopefully).

Re:Finally... (3)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999630)

very few other companies do

It's not that few other companies can, it is that few other companies need to. How about somebody looks at what the tobacco industry spends on lobbying efforts? How about the RIAA and MPAA?

Microsoft is NOT doing anything illegal when it spends money on political contributions. It is the politicians that are doing something illegal if they let that money sway their votes.

Re:Finally... (2)

JamesOfTheDesert (188356) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999647)

... does something illegal like this, ...

Illegal like what? The contributions and lobbying, while of dubious morality, are still legal.

Any numbers available for Sun's lobbying and contributions?

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999632)

What's even nicer is that this has been presented to the judge. Though it may amount to nothing in the long run, the report has been presented in a court and is in the public record, IIRC.

CF

Re:Finally... (-1)

gdiersing (240179) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999691)

Political contributions (on that scale) ARE public record.

Isn't this just like ... (5, Insightful)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999681)

... charges that Microsoft buys (bought?) shelf space in stores to prevent competing products from even being visible?

So, in other words, this is really nothing new. This is Microsoft being Microsoft; now, does anyone seriously doubt that this is an organization bent on doing whatever it takes, including things that are not just immoral, or violate common sense, but possibly things that are criminal, in order to ... what, make money?

Has American society fallen so far into the pit of jade and cynicism that we shrug off the Enrons and Microsofts of the world as merely maladjusted money-seeking sycophants, instead of being so violently outraged that we take every chance to make them wish they'd never even started a business? What the hell are we doing?

Every person who reads about Microsoft's behavior should be so sickened that they vomit. This is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not "business as usual" in the United States. Just because it seems to happen a lot does not make it something we should tolerate, not even for a millisecond, and not for any reason.

*gasp* (0, Redundant)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999608)

Microsoft doing something unethical to try to get out of a possibly harsh anti-trust penalty?! Surely you jest

-Henry

And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (5, Interesting)

Bowie J. Poag (16898) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999609)



We elected the politicans who made the laws in the first place which allowed campaign contributions to be illegal. Infact, during the last election, we didn't want the guy who was willing to do away with them. We wanted to play Bush vs. Gore instead.

Before you run off pointing fingers at Microsoft for doing what they are within the scope of the law to do, ask yourself where the core of the corruption sits. Its not with them, or the politicians. Its us, and our lack of desire to make our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Lobbying wouldn't exist if we as a people decide not to allow it. Anything beyond it would be bribery.

Cheers,

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (5, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999628)

The only truly effective Campaign Finance Reform is to reduce the power of the federal government. As long as the turnip remains large, and growing larger, every goat on the planet will be fighting for a piece of it.

If the Federal government were actually limited in scope (refer to Constitution here), then there would be a lot less to lobby for, to "contribute soft money" for, etc.

I would like to not only limit the power of the government, but prevent lawyers from holding office.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (3, Insightful)

JamesOfTheDesert (188356) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999664)

The only truly effective Campaign Finance Reform is to reduce the power of the federal government.

This is dead on. I do not underastand those who say that the answer to bad ans stupid laws are is more of the same. People will bribe governments so long as governments have the power do something for them.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (3, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999684)

I think that it is not the Federal government in general but the Legislative branch specifically that has gotten sickingly over powerful. They have totally shifted all power away from the Judicial and the Executive branches.

The Justice system is so bogged down that Congress can pass laws that they know will not be repealed by the Justice Department for years (when they can claim it was their predecessors who passed it in the first place). The President has become more of a figurehead than the Queen of England.

What is even worse is that there is so much childish, partisanship in Congress that nothing ever gets done except when they have a common goal which is usually to benefit the corporate giants that line their pockets.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (1)

-brazil- (111867) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999748)

The only truly effective Campaign Finance Reform is to reduce the power of the federal government. As
long as the turnip remains large, and growing larger, every goat on the planet will be fighting for a piece
of it.


What are the alternatives? Local governments instead of a federal one? Great, that would mean not only big corporations get to by political decisions, but small ones, too! Yay!


Or no governments at all? Wowie, then the corps wouldn't even have to buy government, they could do whatever they want anyway! Yippie!

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (5, Informative)

desertfool (21262) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999631)

How timely, as well. Watch the House of Reps. today as they kill a bill for some form of campaign finance reform.

Have any of you American /.'ers called YOUR Representative to say that you want reform? Probably not.

I couldn't blame MS for this. They are just playing the game, and playing it well.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999633)

speak for yourself.

I haven't elected noone of them, nor have anything to do with this filth.

I stopped using M$ a long time ago, thank god, even for work (we deploy leenux and slowaris these days).

The US .gov belongs to the corporations, thats old news. The same happens in every fucking capitalist country, with a few exceptions.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999705)

... The US .gov belongs to the corporations ...

thin they need a new domain: us.gov.com or maybe even us.gov.com.m$ ...

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (2, Insightful)

DutchSter (150891) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999666)

In the end it's all going to boil down to a few possibile illegalities, and a lot of gray area. Retaining law firms so they can't work with the opposition, while ethically shady, is nevertheless legal.

The problem is with those who take the money, as you said. Anybody who believes that the current campaign finance reform crap (I have to call it what it is) is going to do ANYTHING, just think again. Whenever the recipients, namely the politicians have tried to 'clean it up, for the good of everyone', all that happens is the balance shifts around and loopholes are found. Heck, soft money didn't exist before the much touted Watergate reform!

Can I fault Microsoft for doing stuff like this? Probably, this is /. afterall, but it wouldn't be completely fair to do so. Companies do this kind of stuff all the time, to varying levels of success and discreteness.

For as long as Congress can make laws regulating what they cannot do, this problem will always exist in one form or another! That's life.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (5, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999716)

Blockquoth the poster:

Whenever the recipients, namely the politicians have tried to 'clean it up, for the good of everyone', all that happens is the balance shifts around and loopholes are found. Heck, soft money didn't exist before the much touted Watergate reform!

This is not directed to the poster per se but to all who carp along these lines, in increasing numbers today:



Oh, whine whine whine. Of course people are going to find loopholes. Of course money will creep in again. Of course new dastardly means of influence peddling will be found.


How absolutely fratzen stupid is it to throw up your hands and say, "Oh, well, the system can't be made perfect so we shouldn't even try to improve it."



If new loopholes arise, plug them. Plain and simple. Yes, you'll actually have to keep figthing this battle. Yes, it will be honest-to-God actual work to be a member of a democracy. Horror of horrors.


Stop bemoaning the lack of perfectibility. It doesn't get us anywhere and it actually impedes what progress can be made.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (1)

DutchSter (150891) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999760)

I am not advocating doing nothing, but I see a real conflict of intrest when the inmates are running the asylum. Hence my last point, until Congress can somehow remove themselves from passing laws in this regard (which the Constitution argues they are the only ones who can), continuing behavior like this has to be expected.

Another part of the problem is that it takes such massive uprisings to bring an issue to the head of the line of Congress' priorities, how do we get enough Joe USA's to care? In almost every poll I've come across (Gallup, USA Today, Reuters, whatever) campaign finance rates way below the self-interest issues like "Unemployment" "Health Care" "Social Security"

Everybody wants what's best for themselves and their immediate situation. As it is right now, the public doesn't have a really really really good reason to feel the need to get involved in politics or how their politicians are elected, hell, half don't even vote.

It's a quandry I've never been able to figure out in the 15 years that I've actively cared about politics. Majority rules, but if the majority drools (ie doesn't care), it doesn't happen.

Re:And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (2, Interesting)

daniel_howell (457947) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999707)

I never understood how companies get away with funding political parties in the first place. They are, I think, only supposed to spend money if it will benefit their shareholders.

So they could say they were supporting one party over the other because they thought it's policies would benefit them.

But in general companies (in the US and the UK) support both main parties.

So either they are doing this without expecting anything in return (which is wasting shareholders money), or they are expecting to gain something for their money (which is bribery).

So how is this legal??

Enron look a like ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999610)

Does that mean that it's gonna topple like
Enron, shortly ?

Toon Moene

Re:Enron look a like ? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999701)

Do you know anything about Enron you AC Troll? Do you think it was their political contributions that toppled Enron and not significant "accounting irregularities"? Go over to CNN and read about the Enron case and when your mommy has finished changing your diaper come on back.

Re:Enron look a like ? (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999715)

I'd say, "One can only hope..." except that AOL/Time Warner would probably buy the rights and then we'd all end up with the same problem under a different name. ;P

Not first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999611)

Why isn't this mentioned on The Today Show? (-1, Offtopic)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999613)

I can only wonder. Enron sure is getting plenty of time on the show. How about it Katie? Or did Bill's company help to pay part of your salary?

Re:Why isn't this mentioned on The Today Show? (2, Interesting)

rapid prototype (551089) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999667)

duhh....

MS-NBC [msnbc.com]

-rp

Enron? (3, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999615)

"Microsoft's campaign contributions significantly surpassed those of Enron," said Roeder in his report."

So? What does Microsoft have to do with Enron? Oh, I get it..It's popular to bash Enron right now.

More to the point, what did you expect MS to do? Suddenly start playing fair?

Oh, you got me, here's where I hid the bodies, etc.? Please.

Re:Enron? (3, Informative)

HCase (533294) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999677)

I believe Enron was mentioned for a number of reasons.
1. It has recently become a very well known entity.
2. It was also large and had lots of money.
3. It spent quite a bit of money lobbying.
4. It puts people in the mindset the article is looking for.

Re:Enron? (1)

John Allsup (987) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999717)

Not to mention that there is a lot of concern as to how far and wide Enron's lobbying and influence got before it crashed. Part of the point is that Enron wasn't the only one.

Re:Enron? (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999696)

> More to the point, what did you expect MS to do? Suddenly start playing fair?

no, he probably had that stupid wish that the government would do the right thing and CRUSH M$ for not playing right. But wait. M$ just bought the government, so nevermind it.
The thing is, the main concern of the govt must be the technological/human progress of the country, and surely M$ is a drawback to it. But, why am I complaining? I'm not even american! Screw ya.

Re:Enron? (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999730)

According to this site [theyrule.net] (Flash 5 needed), Bill Gates is connected to Enron the following way:
  • Bill Gates basically owns Microsoft
  • which deals with Raymond V. Gilmartin
  • who also deals with Merck
  • which deals with Heidi Miller
  • who also deals with Bank One Corp.
  • which deals with John h. Bryan
  • who deals with General Motors
  • which deals with George M.C. Fisher
  • who deals with AT&T
  • which deals with Gwendolyn S. King
  • who deals with Lockheed Martin
  • which deals with Frank Savage
  • who deals with Enron

Of course, there could be a shorter path in the "Bill Gates rules them all"" map but at least this shows Enron within a 6-degree direct relationship with Microsoft...

This is either not significant or just horrible...

Re:Enron (5, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999762)

Currently, Enron is the posterchild for the reason for campaign finance reform. If our politicians are swayed by the campaign contributions of Enron's scale, what corruption is seeded by a larger sum of money? If the advertising power of the campaigns is knocked askew by some soft money, isn't it knocked asunder by larger sums?

For a few stories linking Enron to campaign finance, you can look at this topic list on Salon.com [salon.com] . The topic is campaign finance. The headlines mostly discuss Enron in recent weeks.

Bastards. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999617)

Large corporations will be the death of us all. We used to have to be afraid of only the government. Now it's corporations that hold the power and make the government worse. Where does it end? It's so cyclic it seems impossible to defeat. Government gives corporations power. Corporations suck it up, grow more rapidly than expected and begin to manipulate the government.

Are we really any better off than the wild west?

Re:Bastards. (1)

cyclist1200 (513080) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999718)

Sounds like you've been reading Fast Food Nation [amazon.com] . If you haven't, you should.

That's what happens when large corporations lobby for laws that prevent accountability.

Re:Bastards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999765)

Why are we spending tax dollars to penalize a corporation providing jobs and return to the shareholder? Laissez-faire, IMO.

Can new evidence be added? (1)

maddogsparky (202296) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999618)

Can this still be admitted as evidence? I thought the discoveries of fact were over after the initial trial.

Yet another reason... (4, Funny)

thesolo (131008) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999619)

Why we need to bring soft money donations to an end! If these types of unregulated donations are allowed to continue, we will just see a further buying & selling of the US government (yes, it IS possible, believe it or not!).

This news probably doesn't surprise too many people in this crowd, I think we all knew that MS was pretty generous with soft monies, but it's very nice to see an article like this. The best part of the entire article? The paragraph about the $25k given to buy off South Carolina's Attorney General.

P.S. Anyone else amazed by the fact that there is a place called Chevy Chase, Maryland?!

I hope the mainstream press picks this up (3, Informative)

DickPhallus (472621) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999620)

In South Carolina, one of the states originally participating in the antitrust suit, Microsoft contributed $25,000 to attorney general Charles Condon shortly before his re-election in 1998. According to the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party this was the largest unsolicited donation ever received. Three weeks after Condon won the election, South Carolina withdrew from the antitrust case.

Hopefully this will get picked up by the AP or something. I mean this alone in most people should arouse serious feelings of mistrust for any company. Microsoft makes software. It shouldn't even be making *any* sorts of political contributions or anything. I seriously doubt that within three weeks the attorney general had suddenly decided MS wasn't violating any laws without persuasion

If, at the very least, this and the enron scandal should be a wake up call for americans to consider political party financial reform.

Re:I hope the mainstream press picks this up (1)

joebp (528430) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999643)

Hopefully this will get picked up by the AP or something.
If this does happen, it would be interesting to see how much MSNBC runs with it, if at all...

Re:I hope the mainstream press picks this up (1)

DickPhallus (472621) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999769)

If this does happen, it would be interesting to see how much MSNBC runs with it, if at all...


Here's to hope!

Re:I hope the mainstream press picks this up (1)

JamesOfTheDesert (188356) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999686)

Microsoft makes software. It shouldn't even be making *any* sorts of political contributions or anything.

So, just what does a company have to make in order to be allowed to make political contributions?

Re:I hope the mainstream press picks this up (1)

DickPhallus (472621) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999714)

I don't think *any* company should be making political contributions.

But I don't have all the solutions...

Re:I hope the mainstream press picks this up (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999719)

Why is this Microsoft's fault? Sounds like Condon is a scumbag who was easily bought. He should be the one strung up. I would have pocketed the money and said thank you. Two days later I would have pursued the case with more ferver than before.

I will ignore your childish comment about not being able to make political contributions because they make software.

This just in....Microsoft spent MONEY!!! (4, Interesting)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999624)

Amazing! Astounding! Unbelievable even!

Yeah, it's underhanded, maybe even a bit immoral, the problem is, *IT'S NOT ILLEGAL*!!

Both sides are throwing money at this, unsurprisingly MS is throwing more. First off, it would be a violation of their fiduciary responsiblities if they didn't defend themselves as vigrorously as possible. Heck, they've already crossed the line of good taste/credibility in their PR and lobying campaigns in the past, why stop now?

If we really want to do something about activities like this we need to correct the current political system. Now, I'll just remain in the legions who complain about it and don't have a good solution (the problem is WAY beyond my meager geek abilities to grok). The one item of interest I have heard is that the current proposed reforms may have allowed people to donate MORE money instead of less.

We vote with our pocketbooks, Microsoft votes with its. They just happen to have a slightly bigger one. Finally, it's ironic that the concept of "free" speech is used to defend monetary contributions...

Re:This just in....Microsoft spent MONEY!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999678)

quote - *IT'S NOT ILLEGAL*!!

It MAY not be illegal (IANAL) but at the least it damages the credibility of MS, the DOJ, and the states in the the proposed settlement - especially those where the state AG recieved campaign contributions (like the SC AG). The judge in being made aware of this may look on the settlement w/ suspicion due to this information.

Accountability (2, Redundant)

joebp (528430) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999627)

$1.6 million [...] on efforts to influence the U.S. government. [...] Microsoft has been unable to comment.
Wow, don't you love having a corrupt, completely unaccountable and evil entity altering and influencing your government and law makers?

You think the US government would decline contributions from any and all companies who have had their questionable business behaviour legally challenged.

Kinda makes sense, no? A lot like convicts being unable to cast a vote.

Re:Accountability (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999671)

Wow, don't you love having a corrupt, completely unaccountable and evil entity altering and influencing your government and law makers?

Do you think that stuff like this doesn't happen all the time? Don't you ever go to the movies???

You think the US government would decline contributions from any and all companies who have had their questionable business behaviour legally challenged.

Kinda makes sense, no? A lot like convicts being unable to cast a vote.


Questionable Business Behavior != convicts

Re:Accountability (1)

OSgod (323974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999673)

You'd think the US government would decline contributions from the companies who desire to take down their competitor through manipulating anti-trust legislation because they can't compete (Sun, Novel, AOl, etc.).

Is MS a monopoly? Probably so (at least the judge said so and that's what counts).

Is MS hurting the consumer? Probably not, especially if you ask the majority of conusmers.

Is MS hurting Sun, Novel and AOL? Definately.

Was the antitrust case taken up after extensive lobbying by Sun, Novel and AOL? Is lobbying not only legal but expected?

MS can be slow to catch on but they play catch-up very, very quickly. The game is who can legally make the most money. This includes legally contributing and lobbying politicians. This means that MS not only learned the game -- once again they outflanked their opposition.

Re:Accountability (1, Flamebait)

Amarok.Org (514102) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999682)

You think the US government would decline contributions from any and all companies who have had their questionable business behaviour legally challenged.

Kinda makes sense, no? A lot like convicts being unable to cast a vote.

Not even remotely related. Why?
Convicts have been CONVICTED. As punative measure, their ability to vote has been restricted.

In this case, Microsoft had been challenged, but not yet convicted. Ever hear of a little concept known as "Innocent until PROVEN guilty"? Were this not the case, simply waging unfounded allegations against any person or company could (and likely would) impact that entity strongly for the worse.

And, as a nit to pick, it's not the "US govenment" that's accepting the contributions - it's PEOPLE and CAMPAIGNS that are running for office in the same. That money goes into getting and keeping people in office, not into the Federal coffers.

All industries do this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999629)

Microsoft just came late to the party.

Soft-money, political and legal maneuvering is old news to other businesses.

Its all part of our incestuous increasingly corrupt political system.

What did Enron's money get them? (2)

kubrick (27291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999642)

Nowhere near as much as Microsoft's did, by the way things look...

Some people would consider giving large amounts of money to people with the potential power to ameliorate your legal troubles bribery -- luckily for Microsoft no-one considers this to be the case here. :/

A sad statement on the American political system, as far as I'm concerned.

Re:What did Enron's money get them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999739)

Enron was in far worse shit than Microsoft ever was.

zdnet.com.com? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999644)

Errr... zdnet.com.com ? Is that actually a zdnet site? The article isn't on zdnet.com. I think someone has been had perhaps and this article is fake :)

Re:zdnet.com.com? (1)

rapid prototype (551089) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999692)

hahahaha...

check it out:

$ nslookup zdnet.com.com
Server: XXXX
Address: 69.200.200.104

Non-authoritative answer:
Name: www.com.com
Addresses: 64.124.237.141, 64.124.237.142, 64.124.237.143, 64.124.237.140
Aliases: zdnet.com.com

$ nslookup www.zdnet.com
Server: XXXX
Address: 69.200.200.104

Name: www.zdnet.com
Address: 205.181.112.65

I think you're right :)

Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 11.7).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 11.7).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 11.7).
-rp

Re:zdnet.com.com? (1)

BACbKA (534028) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999697)

You scared me for a while... But if you actually go to
zdnet.com and type "Microsoft's lobbying efforts eclipse" in the searchbox, you'll get a link to the article (to the zdnet.com.com location). So it's O.K...

Re:zdnet.com.com? (1)

Imjin (553816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999698)

Try going to Com.com and it pulls up a CNet site. All Intel owned, who also sleeps with big Bill.

MS Dollars in politics (1)

keithdowsett (260998) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999646)

Surely this is no different from the tactics used by other large corporations. Hardly big news.

Short of major changes to the political establishment in Washington it will remain in the interest of big corporations to use 'soft money' to nudge the law making process in their direction.

Of course Microsoft contributed more (1)

PowerTroll 5000 (524563) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999655)

Size does matter.

According to Enron's Financial Highlights for 2000 [enron.com] Enron had revenues of $100.789 million, and net income of $1.266 million.

According to Microsoft's Financial Highlights [microsoft.com] (word document) Microsoft had revenues of $9,050 million and net income of $2,195 million.

To compare these two saying that Microsoft contributed roughly four times as much is kind of moot, considering the financial firepower of Microsoft. $ 6million to them is a deck chair on the Titanic to them and could have contributed a lot more.

Re:Of course Microsoft contributed more (1)

Grax (529699) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999757)

You have comma and decimal points that need repairing.

Did Enron have a net income of 1.266 million? or 1266 million?

The Article (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999656)

Microsoft's lobbying efforts eclipse Enron

By
[mailto]
Matt Loney


ZDNet (UK) [zdnet.co.u...7ontid1104]
February 12, 2002, 7:40 AM PT


[slashdot.org]

Microsoft's budget for political lobbying exceeded that of Enron, the judge residing over the antitrust case has heard.


The software giant's budget for its Political Action Committee (PAC) increased from about $16,000 in 1995 to $1.6 million in 2000, according to Edward Roeder, a self-styled expert on efforts to influence the U.S. government, and founder of Sunshine Press Services, a news agency devoted to investigating money in politics.

Roeder's report was submitted to Judge Kollar-Kotelly at the end of January. Microsoft has been unable to comment.


Judge Kollar-Kotelly heard that total donations to political donations from Microsoft and its employees to political parties, candidates and PACs in the 2000 election cycle amounted to more than $6.1 million. During this period, Microsoft and its executives accounted for $2.3 million in soft money contributions, compared to $1.55 million by Enron and its executives for the same period. Soft money is the term generally given to unregulated corporate and individual contributions that cannot go directly to candidates, but which typically goes to political parties.


The evidence came from a review commissioned by the Computer & Communications Industry Association. Roeder said that although the research was commissioned by the CCIA--a known critic of Microsoft--the evidence was based on the "extraordinary public record of Microsoft's political activities during the timeframe of this trial."


Roeder said that his review of the available documents has led him to conclude that over the past five years, Microsoft has engaged in political influence peddling "in many ways unprecedented in modern political history."


The report was delivered in response to the deal unexpectedly reached between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice last year after Microsoft had been found guilty of violating antitrust laws.


"Microsoft's campaign contributions significantly surpassed those of Enron," said Roeder in his report. "It appears Microsoft may have successfully influenced the administration's antitrust policy, with major implications for legal antitrust pecedent." Microsoft insists it did not participate in any "backroom" deals.


Nevertheless, Roeder recommended that the court "undertake an immediate review of Microsoft's lobbying activities surrounding this settlement, with particular attention to meetings with the Justice Department of the White House by Microsoft or its agents."


What makes Microsoft's lobbying throughout the trial so unique is not necessarily the size of political contributions but the scope of its efforts and the speed at which Microsoft went from having almost no political presence in Washington to having one of the "largest and most sophisticated political operations."


In 1995, the company had just a single lobbyist based in Chevy Chase, Maryland; today, it has one of the largest PACs in U.S. corporate history, said Roeder. Microsoft has leapt to the top of the corporate contributor list in soft money contributions.


The size and speed of this leap was staggering. In the seven days preceding Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling against Microsoft, said Roeder, the company donated more soft money to the national political parties than it gave to federal candidates and political parties in the seven years spanning 1989 to 1996. And during the 1999-2000 election cycle, Microsoft and its executives accounted for some $2,298,551 in soft money contributions. Enron, by comparison, donated $1,546,055 during the same period.


Microsoft's direct lobbying has also grown out of all proportion, so that it now retains more lobbyists than the handful of companies with more than 300,000 employees. Microsoft has just 30,000 employees. Part of the reasoning for extensive use of retainers, says Roeder, citing a Business Week article, is to "suck all the oxygen out". In Washington State, Microsoft has hired many law firms with antitrust expertise to work in unrelated areas.


The strategy was extended to other key states, with the dual benefits of starving the opposition of experienced lobbyists, and achieving political results that have benefited the company's case.


In South Carolina, one of the states originally participating in the antitrust suit, Microsoft contributed $25,000 to attorney general Charles Condon shortly before his re-election in 1998. According to the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party this was the largest unsolicited donation ever received. Three weeks after Condon won the election, South Carolina withdrew from the antitrust case.


The analysis of donations by political party shows some surprising results. While Microsoft donations favored Republicans (who got 72 percent of the money from 1995 to 1998), its employees were more inclined to support the Democrats. Democratic PACs received $222,100 from the company's employees, compared to the $42,875 for Republican PACs.

Letters

It's difficult to be impartial [com.com]

Both sides now [com.com]


Would you like to comment on this story? Send us a note [mailto] and we'll publish the best.

Re:The Article (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999747)

Ashcroft recused himself in the Enron case because of the campaign money he had received from them.

Ashcroft had also received campaign money from Microsoft!

Hmmmm! Ashcroft is ashamed of nude statues! I guess that he isn't quite as ashamed of dirty money! What funny moral standards these Republicans have!!! Especially the "born again Christian ones"!!! How about throwing some of those "money changers out of the temple"!

Am I stupid... (1)

Alphix (33559) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999657)

...or doesn't the cost of hiring " every political lobbyist, and every law firm, with anti-trust expertise and putting them to work on unrelated projects" dwarf the advantages that would come out of it (well, obviously they don't feel that way, otherwise they wouldn't do it).

No one could seriously have believed that Microsoft would be broken up into pieces. I'm not talking about if they deserve it or not, just that it's too drastic for a higher court not to change it. And thats probably regardless if they "just" sent in their normal army of lawyers or if they did this.

Something must make it worth this amount of money. IANAL but maybe they are fighting really hard to avoid class-action type lawsuits which could end up costing them much more than the remedies in the actual DoJ MS case?

Surprised (1)

crystal dragon (69701) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999663)

Why are we surprised? Microsoft has always entered the field late (ala Internet) but always with aggression. They figured out that greasing the wheel in a political system geared towards soft money can make a difference between being a player in industry or being just another company listed on the stock market.

They will always employ hard tactics if there is any gain to be made. It's not right, it's not fair, but that's how the game is played.

Where's the public good?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999668)


In South Carolina, one of the states originally participating in the antitrust suit, Microsoft
contributed $25,000 to attorney general Charles Condon shortly before his re-election in 1998.
According to the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party this was the largest unsolicited
donation ever received. Three weeks after Condon won the election, South Carolina withdrew
from the antitrust case.


Shouldn't there be laws against stuff like this. Charles Condon should be kicked out of office.

An experiment (2)

The Smith (305645) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999669)

Let's try an experiment. I am going to give you $1m. Now, do you think I might, just possibly, want something in return...?

Re:An experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999736)

To be honest, if you threw a million bucks at me, I couldn't care less about your intentions. I still got the money, and if I don't do as you want it's you that got the bad end of the deal.

Just like politicans should be. Too bad all of them seem to need strap-on-port-a-spines just to be able to sit straight on a chair without assistance.

Re:An experiment (1)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999752)

Let's try an experiment. I am going to give you $1m.

Thanks.

Now, do you think I might, just possibly, want something in return...?

I'm sorry, I don't believe I know you...

Could this be real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999672)

I know that Microsoft is rich, but are they really THAT rich? Lawyers are expensive as heck; Can MS really through around that vast amount of money without breaking itself?

I'm just wondering if there is an order of magnitude problem here. $6 million is not the order of magnitude necessary to 'suck the oxygen' out of washington; there are pleanty of expensive lawyers to go around. It would take many billions of dollars to achive such an effect (think of it another way- decent lawyers can get $200,000 a year. Buying 200 lawyers could cost $40,000,000 and not put a dent of the pool of lawyers.

The article admits that these numbers come from a known critic of MS. Hmmm.

Re:Could this be real? (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999759)

It's a lot less expensive than paying dammages to Netscape, being broken up and allowing Netscape to expose API's. Netscape could make an OS that would run web appications that would negate the need for a MS OS. They are fighting to keep the monopoly. They don't dare loose at any cost.

Ban contributions? (1)

SkyLeach (188871) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999675)

WTF are you thinking? At least when contributions are legal we know that good men will still get elected because they don't have to sacrifice their morals to get support. Just because the person handing you a $600,000 campaign contribution wants a favor later doesn't mean they will get that favor (especially when giving the favor will get the politician into the fire as well).

When contributions become illegal then bribes become more popular, and those unwilling to accept bribes will not ever come close to getting into office. This is the reason people who are against campaign contributions don't get elected as well.

IMHO the contributions are less trouble than not having them. They should be watched, just like they are being watched. People should scream bloody murder when they are used like M$ and Enron used them. If the populace doesn't rise up and scream for justice then the problem is with the populace not the corporation. Remember that the corporation is made up of people who work for it, and incidentally the populace is made up of the same people.

Re:Ban contributions? (2)

RelliK (4466) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999723)

When contributions become illegal then bribes become more popular, and those unwilling to accept bribes will not ever come close to getting into office

Uhhm, and how is it different from the current situations? Oh yeah, I get it! They are not technicaly bribes: they are called "contributions".

Big freakin' deal (1)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999685)

It also reveals that Microsoft has been hiring
every political lobbyist, and every law firm,
with anti-trust expertise and putting them to work on unrelated projects- anything to
make them unavailable to work for critics of Microsoft


So what? How is this any different than the way any other case is run? I mean, shit, if you're gonna rip on MS, do it for something they've done wrong, not something that every other damn company with a lawsuit does.

So they lobbied. So what?

Re:Big freakin' deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999725)

Its different because normally, when you have a case you higher the best lawyers you can for your case, not every lawyer in the state to keep them out of the case.

When you get the call from MS, stop and think ... (1)

Sir Runcible Spoon (143210) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999688)

... you could be in a shrinking pool of expertise. Hmm, could be worth your while holding of and getting hired by the opposition.

*Simply Shocked* (4, Funny)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999690)

Shocked, simply shocked, I tell you.

right

Of course you realise, this is the Microsoft philosophy applied to the legal field. Microsoft has had a history of buying up tecnologies and expertise, many of which have simply disappeared, never to see the light of day again.

It is perhaps the only real innovation that I know of, to take their billions and buy up anything their legal opponents could use to convict them of their crimes.

I am sure other big companies are taking notes. This convicts them even more in my mind.

Like I have said before, every time I turn around there is something else that comes out and dirties their reputation in my eyes. Heck, if PR LapDogs like ZDNet are taking shots at MS, you know rats are starting to leave the ship.

Re:*Simply Shocked* (2)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999741)

Where exactly do you live? You should know by now that every big company does that. Why do you think that Intel never got sued?

Monopoly? (1)

russianspy (523929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999695)

Microsoft's direct lobbying has also grown out of all proportion, so that it now retains more lobbyists than the handful of companies with more than 300,000 employees. Microsoft has just 30,000 employees. Part of the reasoning for extensive use of retainers, says Roeder, citing a Business Week article, is to "suck all the oxygen out".

Who finds this surprising? Even in politics Microsoft still tries to be a monopoly.

Legal DoS? (2)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999704)

Microsoft isn't doing anything expressly 'wrong' here.. No more so than a local Pizza Hut constantly calling a local Domino's to tie up their phone line so no customers could place an order. Classic.. Brilliant.. And thanks to past campaign contributions, perfectly legal..

"You have to watch the violence Lisa.. Else you'll never become desensitized to it" -- Bart

Balls the size of Washington (3)

Snowfox (34467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999710)

I just thought this was well worth a repeat:
... Microsoft has been hiring every political lobbyist, and every law firm, with anti-trust expertise and putting them to work on unrelated projects- anything to make them unavailable to work for critics of Microsoft.

Now that's ballsy!

Re:Balls the size of Washington (1)

Amarok.Org (514102) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999731)

Now that's ballsy!

And damn near brilliant.

If you want to keep the hired gun ringers off your back, get them on your side - even if that only means taking them out of the available pool for your opponents.


"Hello, Mr. Antitrust Lawyer-Type-Person? We'd like to hire you at your standard rate of $600/hr to string these paperclips together for the next, oh... 2 years. When can you start?"


Wasted money... (3, Insightful)

pease1 (134187) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999711)

Yes, I strive to be MS free, but I would have rather seen MS put this money into bug and security fixing than DC lawyers and lobbyists.

What a waste of resources.

The United States Government (5, Insightful)

gonar (78767) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999726)

The Best Government Money Can Buy (tm)

The real problem here is the idea of "corporate personhood" which extends all the civil rights meant for people (including buying congressmen, senators, presidents and supreme court justices) to corporations.

individual people, and and not-for-profit groups can not compete with the cash generated by a large corporation.

there is one easy solution to this (unfortunately, it's not easy:).

make all elections 100% publicly funded (I believe that england does this and each candidate can only spend something like 10,000 pounds), ban any political advertizing by any non candidate which mentions, depicts or hints where a particlar candidate or party stands on an issue.

this is very common (2)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999727)

Just ask AOL and Intel how much of a contribution they make. Why do you think they didn't get sued? MS on the other hand started giving contributions too late and we all know what happened.

Corporations (4, Insightful)

Grax (529699) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999729)

Personally I believe that the modern legal system is becoming more and more corporate and money controlled.

The problem is that when a politician is elected due to large campaign contributions, he can't help but think that the contributions put him there rather than the votes of the citizens. He is elected, supposedly, to represent the needs of the citizens, but instead he ends up feeling like he is elected to represent the needs of his financiers (even an individual with good moral fiber will have this difficulty).

A politician "should" be concerned first and foremost about how each decision will impact a private citizen. For example, how will DMCA impact the average consumer (loss of their fair use rights), how will extension of copyright laws affect the average individual (they will have access to no new public domain material in their lifetime), etc.

It is getting to the point that the individuals need to hire lobbyists to plead their case with the politicians. Except that the politician was hired in the first place to be our lobbyist.

This money's not in a vacuum (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999734)

So how much did IBM, Sun, Oracle and AOL/TW/Netscape spend on political contributions at the same time they were working with the government against Microsoft?

Don't take it personally people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999753)


It's just business.

Campain reform, not Campain finance reform... (5, Interesting)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999755)

I assert that it is not campain finance reform, but campain reform that we need.

Consider first why candidates need the huge amounts of money to be elected. They in effect need to run two entirely different campains - once for the primary, and once for the election. As a result, the cost more than doubles. Now, the thought is that once they've won the primary, their party will contribute to the main election. This is true but irrelevant to this discussion: the party must raise the money, and thus the need for money still is doubled.

Now, I assert that anytime there is a demand, there will be a supply. Consider the origins of soft money - in the old days you could directly support your candidate with any amount of cash you wished. This was deemed a bad thing and so limits were placed on direct contributions. Bang - you now have created "soft money" that doesn't get covered under the hard money laws. Do you really expect that as long as candidates need money they won't find a way around soft money? And realize this: if you put up a piece on your personal web page about how you feel candidate X is [good|bad], that can be considered a "soft" contribution. Do you really want to give the government that power?

Now, consider the 2000 elections. They were very close - so close that the actual vote difference between the candidates was lost in the noise floor. Was this really because the people were split 50/50 in liking Bush and Gore? Most people who voted for [Bush|Gore] did so because they disliked [Bush|Gore] marginally less than they disliked [Gore|Bush].

I assert that we need to make the following two changes to the system:
1) Allow anybody registered to vote to vote in any primary.
2) Require a binding "none of the above" entry on all elections.

Let's examine the results these two changes would have had on the 2000 US presidential election:
1) By allowing anybody registered to vote in any primary, we would de-emphasize the importance of the primaries and pull the results of the primaries back from the extremes. I doubt that Bush would have won the Republican primary, and I doubt that Gore would have won the Democrat primary. Additionally, candidates such as McCain would have had a much better chance of getting support.
2) By having a binding "none of the above", even if the election had been Bush/Gore, the bulk of people could have voted None Of the Above. Had None Of the Above won, then NOBODY in that election could hold the office, and there would have to be a new election. Ask yourself this: no matter your political affiliation, if you could have had a chance to block both Bush and Gore in favor of a shot at a better candidate, would you?

I assert that with these two changes, the following things would happen:

1) The third party candidates wouldn't run in the first race. Instead, they would encourage the voters to vote NOTA in the first race and knock the big boys out.
2) The big parties would no longer be able to take this "This is our guy, take it or leave it" attitude. Thus, they would tend to field more moderate candidates.
3) Because of 1 and 2, more people would feel their vote mattered, and we would get more turnout.
4) Because the primaries could no longer be used to limit our choices, they would become unimportant and would fad away. Remember - the primaries are entirely outside the election process as described in the Constitution.

Now, I don't assert that these changes would prevent lobbying by corporations. However, if a party knew that they could no longer annoint a golden child in the primaries and force them down our throats, they might be more aware of how the PEOPLE feel about an issue, rather than MONEY.

Discussion?

Microsoft... a big disappointment (2, Interesting)

MrIcee (550834) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999756)

This simply continues to reinforce that Microsoft is a Marketing company and a Political interest group.... but NOT a software company.

Instead of creating quality software that people would use because it is the most secure, efficient and capable software... they choose to write utter crap... and they hire marketers to tell us it's gold... hire political lobbiests to force policies and judicial decisions in their favor.

When I started out in computing 26 years ago I never conceived that we would be as backwards as we are today. I never dreamed we would require a 1 gigahertz machine to run a windowing system poorly.... I never thought that instead of booting faster... that machines would boot slower and slower.

Extremely disappointing that a marketing/political interest group has been allowed to pretty much destroy the computer industry.

I guess we can hope and pray that MicroSoft goes the way of Enron... that it's dirty dealings are opened up to the world and that the world responds by simply refusing to have anything to do with the MicroSluts.

$6M vs $38,000M (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999758)

Microsoft is sitting on a $38 billion pile of cash. $6 million is 0.15 cents on the dollar.

Ralph Nader says this cash pile is distortion of capitalism. Traditionally companies pay out dividends once they have grown into profitibility. The stockholders are being screwed.

Malformed figures (1)

silvaran (214334) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999761)

Read the story /.ers... it's $1.6 million, not $6 million. Still a significant increase over $16,000.

this is a test... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999763)

...of the emergency broadcast system.

American Political System and Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2999767)

If you like how out political and economic system work, or at least mostly like it, then this is just how the game is played. Business wants the government off its back so it bribes (donates) money to whom will help them the best. Since the Republicans favour large corporations AND the Republicans are currently in power, they will get the money. The employees donated almost 10:1 to the Democrats, which is fairly typical too. Nothing in this article is suprising. I'm not saying I like how our government and economic system works, but THIS is how it is.

Denial Of Oxygen Attack (1)

DeLabarre (236800) | more than 12 years ago | (#2999768)

Microsoft's patented DoO2 attack. I was at IBM when they released OS/2 v2. When manufacturing went out to buy floppy disks in bulk for the product launch, they discovered that MS had bought up all the floppy manufacturing capacity for months into the future, allegedly just to screw with OS/2.
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