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"Microsoft cared little for politics until the Department of Justice called it a monopoly. Now the company approaches lobbying the way it approaches everything-aggressively-and consequently it dominates the technology policy agenda.

Mike Reynolds, a State Representative in Oklahoma .... March 2004 bill requiring companies that develop custom applications for the state to turn over their source code received support from both sides of the aisle and sailed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives 75-20, getting every Republican vote and over half the Democrats'. The bill, which applied only to software built specifically for the state, not off-the-shelf or previously developed applications, seemed like a bill most everyone could agree on.

The Initiative for Software Choice (ISC), a trade association with close ties to Microsoft, wrote letters to Reynolds and other legislators stating that the bill would create a climate favoring open-source software and "harm Oklahoma's public administration, its IT industry and workers" by eliminating competition.

Responding to what seemed like a wave of opposition, the Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee tabled the bill.

It never came up for vote..... (Microsoft) spent $11.1 million in 2003, while IBM (which is nearly three times the size of Microsoft) spent $6.7 million, Oracle $2.1 million, Sun $1.6 million and Cisco $645,200, according to the CPI (Center for Public Integrity).

David Hart, an associate professor at Harvard's Kennedy school and a lobbying expert, says that lobbyists are only as good as the ideas they promote, and that lobbyists without good ideas usually don't last. But with Microsoft lobbying in a near vacuum, there is no system of checks and balances to judge whether its ideas are good. And few legislators have the technology background—or the interest—to come up with ideas on their own. In this kind of an environment, ideas from a well-connected, well-funded company can easily become policy."

- "Mr. Gates Goes to Washington," Ben Worthen Senior Writer, CXO Media (an International Data Group company "IDG" http://www.idg.com), September 15, 2004 Issue of CIO Magazine.


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Post Date: September 22, 2004 at 5:40 AM CDT; 1040 GMT