Anti-Christ hires Haman to lobby Spawn of Satan
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 100 13:18:26 -0700
Subject: Anti-Christ hires Haman to lobby Spawn of Satan
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[Whew! The worlds of business and politics make for some mighty strange
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Microsoft tries to win Bush over
Candidate's consultant Reed is hired for lobbying effort
Tuesday, April 11, 2000
By JOEL BRINKLEY
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Microsoft Corp. has quietly hired Ralph Reed, a senior consultant to Gov.
George W. Bush's presidential campaign, to lobby Bush in opposition to
the government's antitrust case against the company.
Microsoft's aim, the company says, is to curry favor with the apparent
Republican presidential nominee, hoping he will speak out against the
government's case -- and, perhaps, take a softer approach toward the
company if he is elected president.
Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, is well-situated to take on
the assignment since his firm, Century Strategies, is one of Bush's top
consultants. During the primary campaign, Reed frequently appeared on
television to talk on behalf of the campaign.
Yesterday, Reed declined to talk about his company's contract with
Microsoft, saying, "We have a policy of not discussing our clients."
Another executive of his company, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
that Microsoft had hired Century Strategies to lobby other political
candidates as well.
Mark Murray, a spokesman for Microsoft, said the company hired Century
Strategies to counter "a comprehensive lobbying campaign by our
competitors" to promote the government's suit. The company also said it
had been "working very hard to get our point of view across to all the
presidential candidates," including Vice President Al Gore. Microsoft
has not said how it has lobbied Gore and his staff.
Last week, a federal judge found Microsoft in wide violation of antitrust
laws. And in large part because of the government antitrust suit,
Microsoft has been trying to make friends among the candidates, Republicans
and Democrats alike.
An accounting by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that, during
the current election season, Microsoft and its employees have donated more
than $727,000 to political parties -- 53 percent of it to the Republicans
and 47 percent to Democrats.
One obvious goal, while the antitrust case drags through a year or more
of appeals, is to convince the next president, Congress and the public
that the case should be abandoned. But the current campaign by Reed's
company is much more closely targeted to the Bush campaign.
A series of e-mail messages from John Pudner, senior project manager for
Century Strategies, laid out a detailed plan by Reed's staff and his
contractors to recruit senior Bush supporters from around the country in
an effort to undermine the government's suit.
The Bush supporters -- and the e-mail showed that Pudner is screening them
carefully to make sure they are influential within the campaign -- are
being asked to write letters to Bush saying they believe the government's
case is misguided, and that the American people oppose it.
Pudner's e-mail messages instruct "state operatives" of the firm to send
him biographical information about Bush supporters who could help influence
the Bush campaign.
Only after he has verified that the supporters are sufficiently influential
are the regional lobbyists, working on contract for Century Strategies,
authorized to solicit more letters.
Pudner said that the company intended to gather the letters through the
end of this month. "We will reject letters that are not from someone" the
company counts as influential, he wrote.
The e-mails were made available to The New York Times by a recipient who
did not agree with the goals of the campaign. One lobbyist said that
Century Strategies was offering the regional contractors $300 a letter --
a high price for this sort of work.
As part of his e-mail solicitations, Pudner distributed the results of a
Microsoft-sponsored national opinion poll taken late last month. It offers
the conclusion that Americans do not support the case against Microsoft,
and Pudner wrote that it was a "powerful" tool "to demonstrate how strongly
Americans support Microsoft's position in the lawsuit."
The poll was conducted by Zogby International. In an interview, John Zogby,
president of the company, said Microsoft wrote the poll questions, though
Zogby vetted them before running the survey.
In the poll, questioners were asked how they ranked their state attorney
general's pursuit of the Microsoft case against other issues.
These other issues include "charges that airlines are not properly
maintaining and repairing their jets," that "the pharmaceutical industry
overcharges for prescription drugs," that "oil and gas companies are trying
to control the cost of gasoline" and "banks charge excessive fees to
customers who use ATMs."
Not surprisingly, the Microsoft antitrust case ranked dead last.
Tom Miller, the attorney general of Iowa who leads the 19 state attorneys
general who joined with the Justice Department in suing Microsoft, said
he believed the poll was "slanted -- we all know how it's going to turn
According to evidence introduced at the antitrust trial, Microsoft has a
history of trying to write public opinion polls that guarantee an outcome.
Just over two years ago, shortly before Bill Gates was to appear before
a Senate committee in Washington, he wrote an e-mail to his subordinates
in which he said: "It would HELP ME IMMENSELY to have a survey showing
that 90 percent of developers believe that putting the browser into the
operating system makes sense."
Microsoft's decision to build a Web browser into Windows set off the
government's current antitrust case. And in a subsequent string of e-mails,
Microsoft employees laid out how they would pose the questions to get the
answers Gates wanted.
Murray, the Microsoft spokesman, said the company had received documents
demonstrating that rivals were engaged in similar lobbying efforts against
Microsoft. Some he offered were two years old; they showed auto dealers
and others congratulating state attorneys general for filing suit against
But one lobbyist for a Microsoft competitor confirmed that similar lobbying
against Microsoft continues today.
(c) 2000 The New York Times.
All rights reserved.
© 2000 Peter Langston