Reed reports Microsoft paid him $1.57 million

Story: Linux News: Does Microsoft's Monopoly Power Extend to Government and Media?Total Replies: 24
Author Content
henke54

May 06, 2006
6:17 AM EST
Friday, May 5, 2006

"SEATTLE -- Ralph Reed, conservative Republican strategist who's running for lieutenant governor of Georgia, has reported that Microsoft Corp. paid his public relations and lobbying firm $1.57 million over five years.

In a financial disclosure statement filed in Georgia on Monday, the former head of the Christian Coalition said his firm, Century Strategies, received five payments ranging from $240,000 to more than $572,000 each year from 2001 to 2005." http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WA_Microsoft_Reed...
dinotrac

May 06, 2006
6:54 AM EST
So..the question is - what is the news value of this.

Has Ralph Reed ever denied being a lobbyist? What exactly do you think the Christian Coalition is but a lobbying group?

I guess it would be shocking if you thought lobbyists worked for free because they believed deeply in the causes they were shilling. And, of course, lawyers never argue a case they don't believe in passionately, celebrity endorsers never endorse a product they don't believe in and use personally.

Right.

grouch

May 06, 2006
7:54 AM EST
The news value is that it informs the electorate. See U.S. Constitution, amendments thereto. The reason it concerns a Linux-centric news portal should likewise be self-evident, since the influence is by an entity which has carried out a long campaign to belittle Linux and obstruct its take-up by corporations and governments.

dinotrac

May 06, 2006
9:49 AM EST
grouch:

Fair enough, but interesting only in nailing the dollar amounts. Again, I didn't think there was anything secret about Mr. Reed's (or, more accurately, his firm's) activities.
number6x

May 06, 2006
11:36 AM EST
Ralph Reed and Jack Abrahamoff are very old friends from the time they ran the national college republicans while at school.

These were the people Microsoft started to work with when they first started lobbying during the DOJ trial.

Many of us in the tech world take MS's Lobbying as more dirty tricks in true MS fashion, but Somebody did show me it could be loked at differently as well.

Microsoft was never into lobbying or trying to buy political influence, until the government came knocking with the DOJ lawsuit.

My friend pointed out that it was like an old style shakedown. The feds come to your place of work and point out that "You got a really nice place of business here. 'Be a real shame if something were to mess with your business plans."

And then when Microsoft started donating, the trouble just vanished. Funny how that happens huh?
dinotrac

May 06, 2006
12:11 PM EST
6x -

Hadn't really thought about it that way, but you might have a point. I have always thought that the Clinton DOJ never actually intended to win the case...they just managed to get an independent judge and vastly underestimated just how nasty Microsoft really is. Throw in a few boneheaded maneuvers like faking evidence in a bench trial, and bingo!! You're got a win whether you want it or not.
grouch

May 06, 2006
12:21 PM EST
number6x:

I don't doubt there was a bit of the shakedown involved, but I can't summon up any sympathy for MS. They've been shaking down the world for many years.

The influence purchased by Microsoft and by the MAFIAA is the most worrisome to me, right now. Microsoft's influence is troubling because of their history of anti-competitive tactics. The MAFIAA (who around here coined that acronym, anyway?) currently holds influence beyond its size in the economic pie.
tuxchick2

May 06, 2006
12:31 PM EST
MAFIAA http://www.mafiaa.org/

"We no longer have to have both the movie and music industries buying up senators and congressmen to get restrictive copyright laws passed," Glickman explained. "Now the representatives will be getting one sack of money from one organization. The cost savings to us will be tremendous."
grouch

May 06, 2006
12:37 PM EST
Thanks, tuxchick2! Maybe that was linked from LXer at one time? Even if it wasn't, it's fiendishly funny enough to have come from the gang around here.
tuxchick2

May 06, 2006
12:49 PM EST
grouch, I think I saw that link on Slashdot. It's one of my faves.

As far as the news value of Microsoft employing the services of the evil power-mad consummate back-room wheeler-dealer Ralph Reed, well, it is newsworthy just for what it is. That's the value of public disclosure. The guy is an unprincipled hired gun, one of the best, and you can bet money that anyone using his services is just as unprincipled and ruthless. If Georgians are dumb enough to elect him, they're in for a bad time.
dinotrac

May 06, 2006
1:54 PM EST
tuxchick2 -

>evil power-mad consummate back-room wheeler-dealer Ralph Reed

Something tells me that good ol' Ralph may not be a personal hero of yours.

tuxchick2

May 06, 2006
3:11 PM EST
Dino, don't be silly, I think he's adorable. I want to tweak his cherubic lil cheeks. With channel-locks.

:)
dinotrac

May 06, 2006
3:17 PM EST
>With channel-locks.

You always hurt the one you love. Perhaps a few others along the way...
grouch

May 06, 2006
3:53 PM EST
dinotrac: >"I have always thought that the Clinton DOJ never actually intended to win the case..."

Um, which case? The Seattlement came after the win, y'know.

The Revised Proposed Final Judgement was filed 2001-11-06. The public comment period ended 2002-01-28. Out of over 30,000 comments received, our industrious DoJ selected 47 by 2002-02-14. Yup, just 17 days *counting weekends* to sift through the whole pile and tell the court those 47 were representative. Just 13 days later, on 2002-02-27, the DoJ submitted its "Response of the United States to Public Comments on the Revised Proposed Final Judgment".

Really weird for lawyers to win a case, then let the convict write the rules of the "penalty" (including escape routes) and select the overseers.

I hope everyone is properly ecstatic over the amazing array of competing PC operating systems now available from your local computer stores, brought to you by the incredible efforts of the Dept. of Justice and the awe-inspiring "Final Judgement". It almost chokes me up when I think of all the wonderful competition and examples of capitalism at its finest, enabled since the "Final Judgement" was entered on November 12, 2002.

Just think, if MS Vista can squeak onto the market by around Thanksgiving, 2007, it will just miss the end of the "Final Judgement" and have to face all those other, competing PC operating systems in "the relevant market".
dinotrac

May 06, 2006
4:15 PM EST
grouch -

The case was won by the Clinton DOJ. I don't believe that the Clinton Administration ever intended to win the case. Let's not forget that they made one sweetheart deal with Microsoft that didn't survive judicial scrutiny.

I have always found the fact that the case focused on the browser and explicitly left out Microsoft's confidential agreements with OEMs highly suspicious. That relationship creates a far stronger argument (in my not so humble opinion) than browser bundling ever did.

Like all administrations, the Clinton DOJ had to contend with the fact that the people in the trenches were civil servants instead of political appointees, and they had no control over the judge.

Surely they figured Microsoft would settle and, failing to settle, that Microsoft would be a little more sensible and not so - so - so Microsofty.
grouch

May 06, 2006
4:40 PM EST
dinotrac:

When did Dubya take office? What became of the case, then? I don't think the outcome would have been different if it had been the LaRouche DoJ followed by the Seattlement under Falwell. Timing and noise might be different, but not the effect.

I don't think the fiasco should be characterized by president or party. If you look at every time the DoJ made noises at Microsoft, it spans a lot of time. The public political wind doesn't seem to have affected the DoJ's repeated ability to generate publicity while being completely ineffective in hindering the monopoly.

Now if you want to smack Clinton around over the DMCA, I'll be happy to be your tag-team partner in that exercise.
dinotrac

May 06, 2006
5:29 PM EST
grouch -

Go back to regular tobacco. Better yet, follow your own advice and check the timeline. Bush wasn't in office during any portion of the trial.

I haven't said a word bout the punishment phase, or the Bush Administration's shameful failure to pursue aggressive measures during the remanded punishment phase.

I have talked only about the court case itself. I do not think that the Clinton administration ever intended to win that case. Period. Go back and check the timeline yourself. Had Bush been in office, I might be saying the same about him, but he wasn't. The case was brought by the Clinton administration after its attempt to make a sweetheart deal went down the drain.
grouch

May 06, 2006
7:28 PM EST
dinotrac:

There is no "regular" tobacco around here. Please send some of yours.

That court case, and I think we're both talking about the latest one, was brought by the U.S. DoJ and 20 states attorneys general. I don't think Clinton was in 20 state offices.

Is the '94 Consent Decree the "sweetheart deal" you're referring to?
dinotrac

May 07, 2006
1:50 AM EST
grouch:

The 1994 Consent Decree is what I refer to. That's the one that Judge Sporkin rejected for failing to meet Tunney Act requirements of serving the public interest. As later events demonstrated, Sporkin was right, and the Appeals Court that overturned his order was wrong.

"The" Court case was brought by the federal government. The assorted attorneys general brought their own case which were rolled into the federal case. Now answer me this, Twiddle Dee:

What happened to all of those state actions once the federal government brought it's case? Do you remember the 9 states who objected to the settlement? How far did their demands for stiffer punishment get them?

The Feds did Microsoft a big favor: Instead of 20 states, they fought one Federal Government. Microsoft being Microsoft, they thought they could win no matter how they conducted the trial. In their arrogance, however, they committed the biggest blunder you can commit in a bench trial: they pissed off the judge.

And so they lost a case the government never intended to win.







grouch

May 07, 2006
7:18 AM EST
dinotrac:

I did as you suggested and went back over the timeline.

You're right, the entire case of the DoJ, excluding the punishment phase, lies within Clinton's term. Only the deadlocked FTC investigation that triggered the DoJ's involvement and the punishment phase spanned the Bush and Bush terms (Sr. and Jr., respectively).

Now about that sweetheart deal -- I'm guessing you call it that because it was so narrowly targetted at OEM contracts and easily side-stepped. All the stuff that Sporkin pointed out that the DoJ didn't include in the complaint looked like juicy, low-hanging fruit, to my non-lawyer eyes.

History does show Sporkin to be right about the '94 consent decree being inadequate. The appeals court was right, IMO, to not allow him to take over what is supposed to be the DoJ's job, though, regardless of how obviously the DoJ screwed up that job. (I would appreciate your view of that).

jdixon

May 07, 2006
7:21 AM EST
> In their arrogance, however, they committed the biggest blunder you can commit in a bench trial: they pissed off the judge.

Obvious perjury and contempt for the process will do that. Do you suppose the SCO management was paying attention at the time? I know Boise was, so you have to wonder why his firm would have taken the case (absent flat out lying by his client, which I won't discount).

In general, I'd say your analysis is correct.
dinotrac

May 07, 2006
7:44 AM EST
grouch -

I agree with you that the Appeals Court was right. Sporkin was completely correct in his assessment of the decree, but the government would NEVER get anything done if the courts stepped in every tine something simply sucked.

jdixon -

I'm beginning to wonder if anybody anywhere has a memory any more.

I can't decide which is worse:

a) The possibility that nobody bothers to learn from history or,

b) that they are so arrogant as to believe everyone who went before was stupid and that they are smart enough to get away with all this crap.



jimf

May 07, 2006
9:40 AM EST
Quoting:The possibility that nobody bothers to learn from history


For most people in the world, an obvious given.
grouch

May 07, 2006
10:49 AM EST
History sure is a funny thing. I had forgotten some significant details. (Thanks for the push, dinotrac).

From the Court of Appeals ruling that dinotrac referred to, footnote 10., http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f0200/0233.htm

"10. Amici also contend without explanation that the decree contains a "loophole" by which a next-generation operating system can be taken outside the scope of the decree if Microsoft sells it "bundled" with an applications program. We perceive no interpretation of the decree's definition of covered products which would allow such a result."

That was June 16, 1995. By August, 1995 the decree was entered. Two years later, the DoJ filed a contempt of court complaint over Microsoft's requirement that OEMs ship IE with W95 in violation of the decree. By January, 1998, Microsoft decides to drop their attempt to bundle IE with W95; they just sidestep to W98. In May, 1998, an appeals court decides Microsoft can do that bundling with W98.

Kinda looks like the appeals court of '95 was a bit myopic in their perception of the "interpretation of the decree's definition of covered products". The appeals court of '98 did a little gymnastics to aid Microsoft in following the letter of the decree while completely violating its intent.

As shown in the DoJ's petition, http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f1200/1236.htm

" E. Microsoft shall not enter into any License Agreement [with an OEM] in which the terms of that agreement are expressly or impliedly conditioned upon:

(i) the licensing of any other Covered Product, Operating System Software product or other product (provided, however, that this provision in and of itself shall not be construed to prohibit Microsoft from developing integrated products)."

There's the loophole to sidestep the purpose of the consent decree. Maybe "Amici" should have provided an explanation in '95, but would it have prevented the '95 court of appeals and the '98 court of appeals from assisting MS in slithering through the loophole?
dinotrac

May 07, 2006
10:57 AM EST
grouch:

In fairness to the courts, this problem extended (and extends) well beyond Microsoft. In the best of cases, laws and legal action tend to be the worst way to do much of anything. In the case of advancing technology, the law tends to blow chunks. Not only is it continually playing catch-up, but law-makers and judges alike vary widely in their technical sophistication. Remember - courts are used to applying established precedents and principles, not breaking new ground.

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