Microsoft Giving Leans to the Right

Microsoft has a stake in the upcomingpresidential election, and if its pattern of corporate contributions is anyindication, Redmond wants Republicans in office.

According to federal records, theMicrosoft Corporation Political Action Committee gave money to candidates onboth sides of the political fence nationwide (for purposes of this article,only the last two years of contributions were counted).

For instance, influential Democrats suchas Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts ($1,000), Dianne Feinstein ofCalifornia ($7,000), and Reps. Richard Gephardt of Missouri ($7,500) and MaxineWaters of California ($1,000), received funds. At the same time, topconservative Republicans such as Sen. Trent Lott of Missouri ($5,000), Reps.Henry Hyde of Illinois ($4,000) and Tom Delay of Texas ($5,000), as well asSenate hopeful Rep. Rick Lazio of New York ($1,000) -- who’s squaring offagainst Hillary Clinton -- have also received largesse.

But when it comes to political actioncommittees (PACs), the scales tip overwhelmingly in favor of Republicans (bylaw, corporations can’t contribute directly to candidates; money must gothrough a PAC or committee).

Federal Election Commission records showthat two Democrat-related PACs got contributions: the New Democrat Network,which has received $10,000 the last two years, and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’sSearchlight Leadership Fund, enriched by $7,000 of Microsoft’s money.

On the other hand, Microsoft contributedto 13 Republican-aligned PACs to the tune of $153,000. Some of the moreinteresting PACs include the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund,and Sen. John McCain’s Straight Talk America.

When it comes to soft money -- money thatis donated to political parties instead of candidates, and has no mandatedspending limits -- Microsoft is even more generous.

 According to the left-leaning watchdog group Common Cause,Microsoft has given slightly more than $1.8 million in the last two years, with$996,478 going to Republicans, and $809,292 going to Democrats.

That’s typical of large corporations, aMicrosoft spokesman told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Rick Miller saidthe company largely follows a "very basic business strategy to giving, andthat's a 60/40 approach -- 60 percent to the party in the majority and 40percent to the minority." 

The overall pattern of giving makessense, according to Giga Information Group’s Rob Enderle. The upcoming electionis very important to Microsoft, and other large and small technology companies,which views Republicans as more favorable toward the industry.

The RedmondGiving Tree

Microsoftgave generously to candidates in both parties during the current election cycle.Contributions to Political Action Committees (PACs) was decidedly moreone-sided.

Democrats

Name of PAC19992000Total
New Democrat Network5,0005,00010,000
Searchlight Leadership Fund3,5003,5007,000

Republicans

20,000
KOMPAC (Keep Our Majority Political Action Committee)5,0005,00010,000
Majority Leader’s Fund5,0005,00010,000
National Republican Senatorial Committee5,00015,000
New Republican Majority Fund5,0005,000 
Northwest Leadership PAC5,0002,5007,500
Northern Lights PAC3,0002,0005,000
NRA Political Victory Fund2,5002,500 
Republican Majority Fund5,0002,5007,500
Restore America PAC1,0001,5003,500
Straight Talk America5,0005,000 
Texas Freedom Fund1,0001,000 
Washington Fund2,0003,5005,500
Wisconsin Leadership PAC2,0002,0004,000

Source:Federal Election Commission (http://www.fec.gov)