FOCUS-Microsoft silently prepares to avoid spotlight under Biden

Washington, October 26 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp, which has launched a massive Washington investigation into Big Tech companies and secured a $ 10 billion government contract under the Trump administration, has emerged as a significant supporter of the Bowman campaign .

Redsend, a Washington-based software company, is the fourth-largest contributor to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s candidate campaign committee, according to data from a website at OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics and promotes finance records .

Company President Brad Smith is playing a key role behind the scenes, hosting a fundraiser for Biden in Medina, Washington last year. He is also a big dollar bundler – people who helped raise more than $ 25,000 for the Biden campaign – and had a public role during the Democratic National Convention, similar to Jay Carney, the policy head of Inc.

According to campaign finance records, Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott and his wife have contributed to more than 50,000 supporting committees helping Biden win. And Microsoft board member and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and his wife have also generously donated to the Biden campaign. Hoffman’s wife has contributed half a million dollars to the Biden Victory Fund.

According to data from part of the revolving door project, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CERP), senior executives at Microsoft have also donated more to the Biden campaign during primaries than any other big tech company.

“Microsoft has been doing politics for a long time compared to other big technology companies that are widely talked about,” said Max Moran, a researcher at CERP.

“It knows how to play the game on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

Companies are prohibited by law from donating themselves. Contributions, according to OpenSecrets, were made either by the company’s political action committees (PACs), members of the PAC, or their employees.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company has a history of engaging with administration on issues related to its business. “Our approach has been consistent: we will be partners where we can, we can stand apart, where we should,” she said, adding the contribution was made by her staff, without presenting more details.

Major technology companies, including Microsoft, have not emerged on the list of top 20 contributors for the Trump Candidate Campaign Committee. However, Microsoft’s Smith, whose donations have mostly helped Democrats, has made several contributions for Republicans, including a $ 15,000 donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to campaign finance records.

Top contributors to the Trump campaign include US Postal Service and Department of Defense government employees, followed by companies such as American Airlines Group and banks such as Wells Fargo, according to OpenSecrets.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill did not comment on the story, but pointed to an earlier statement he shared with Reuters, stating: “Many technology veterans and their executives have not only abused their power , Has rather misled the American people, harmed our democracy “and developed any form of responsibility. It ends with a President Biden. “

Microsoft has survived scrutiny by Washington lawmakers and potential agencies from the investigation – culminating in one of Alphabet’s biggest no-confidence motion against Google by the Justice Department.

In fact, the lawsuit offered Microsoft a potential opportunity to expand its Bing search engine usage, leaving a long campaign for legal relief after years of victory.

Other major competitors of the company, such as Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Inc., are battling various state and federal investigations.

Earlier this year, Microsoft won a $ 10 billion cloud computing contract from the US Department of Defense, after Amazon was defeated by President Donald Trump in a contest over allegations of political influence.

‘enter the room’

Moran of CERP stated that Microsoft has presented itself as an “adult on the side”.

For example, Smith and Microsoft have invested time and resources in keeping a good grip of Democratic lawmakers.

Earlier this year, Smith met with the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, which made a shocking report on how Big Tech hurt competitors. During the meeting, Smith offered Microsoft’s approach, as a company that has faced conflicting regulation in the past, and according to a source familiar with the matter, about how Apple operated its App Store Also discussed his company’s concerns.

Lawyers and antitrust experts said there are some challenges that Microsoft still faces, even though they are unlikely to result in any meaningful action in the immediate future under the Biden administration. For example, in February, the Federal Trade Commission said it would investigate prior acquisitions from Big Tech companies, including Microsoft. The company is also facing a conflicting complaint in Europe from Slack, which operates a product similar to Microsoft teams.

“It’s a classic case of shiny objects,” said Andrew Gavill, a professor at Howard University School of Law. “Microsoft has been successful in ensuring they focus on all areas when they continue to work in multiple areas.”

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin


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