> Howdy, all--
> This seems to me an important--and inevitable--precedent. Thought it might interest you corporation-watchers. One could argue that agribusiness does the same thing. But remember that Microsoft now owns, controls, or has a say in a vast amount of the infrastructure by which you and I now communicate via computers and the Internet.
> At what point will the World's Richest Geek decide he wants to start taking a role in food systems and food production? At what point will Microsoft start making its presence known in the work we all do?
> Just thankin' ahead, pards.
> Microsoft Targets Antitrust Division's Budget
> Software giant urges Congress to cut millions from Clinton's proposal
> Dan Morgan, Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
> Friday, October 15, 1999
> Microsoft Corp. lobbyists and allies are
> aggressively pressing Congress to reduce next
> year's proposed funding for the Justice
> Department's antitrust division, the giant software
> company's accuser in a storied court battle.
> Microsoft representatives have urged House and
> Senate members to cut President Clinton's
> proposed funding for the division by about $9
> million this year. And nonprofit organizations that
> receive financial support from the company have
> also urged key congressional appropriators to limit
> spending for the division when they begin their final
> negotiations on the Justice Department budget,
> possibly as early as Monday.
> The nonprofit groups made their request in a letter
> last month after an all-expenses-paid trip to
> Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., where
> they were entertained and briefed on an array of
> issues facing the company.
> Microsoft's latest efforts on Capitol Hill will have
> little or no impact on the department's antitrust case
> against the software giant, and for that reason they
> seem somewhat unusual. While companies regularly
> ask lawmakers to block federal agencies from
> implementing specific policies, it is more uncommon
> to seek an across-the-board cut in a department's
> budget, especially in the middle of a major court
> But company officials said they want to send a
> strong message to the antitrust division. ``It's no
> secret we really have some serious concerns about
> some of the Department of Justice's conduct during
> the course of this litigation,'' said Jack Krumholtz,
> director of federal government affairs for Microsoft.
> Krumholtz cited recent news reports that Justice
> officials encouraged foreign governments to file suit
> against Microsoft. Assistant Attorney General Joel
> Klein has declared that those reports are false.
> The Clinton administration is seeking $114.3 million
> to cover the salaries of 360 attorneys now in the
> antitrust division and to fund the hiring of about 18
> more legal staff members. That would be an
> increase of about 16 percent over the previous
> budget. While Senate appropriators have proposed
> a budget of $112.3 million, the House figure is only
> $105.2 million
> --and the Senate has come under pressure to give
> way to the House. Administration officials said the
> higher figure is urgently needed to cope with a sharp
> increase in corporate merger activity and to
> investigate criminal price-fixing.
> Support for the antitrust division's work remains
> strong in Congress. House Judiciary Committee
> Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., called the division
> ``one of the best-run departments in the
> government.'' Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl, the top
> Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's antitrust
> subcommittee, said ``it would set (a) terrible
> precedent to alter the division's budget based on
> one case alone.''
> But Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., whose campaign
> has received about $51,000 from Microsoft or its
> employees since 1997, has been an outspoken
> supporter of a cut in the antitrust budget.
> Such an action would ``express total dissatisfaction
> with the way Justice is handling the case against
> Microsoft,'' said a spokeswoman for Gorton. She
> added that Gorton, a senior member of the Senate
> Appropriations Committee, is ``pretty confident he
> will be able to get (the Senate) number lowered
> closer to the House number.''
> Microsoft has been sharply increasing its lobbying,
> political donations and support of a network of
> ``think tanks'' to counter the political and lobbying
> activities of its adversaries.
> Last month, a dozen handpicked representatives of
> influential Washington-based policy organizations
> traveled to Redmond for three days of briefings.
> Groups represented included Citizens for a Sound
> Economy, the National Taxpayers Union and
> Americans for Tax Reform, whose president,
> Grover Norquist, received $40,000 in lobbying
> payments from Microsoft in the last six months of
> Two days after returning from the trip, the three
> organizations and three others sent a letter to House
> appropriators urging that funding for the division be
> held to the lower House level.
> ©1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A2
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