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MS lobbies to slash DoJ antitrust budget

Conduct during litigation (against MS) has been shocking, apparently

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Microsoft is attempting to shut off the DoJ's air supply. Not Netscape's this time, and actually, not even the whole DoJ air supply - Redmond's beef is with the DoJ Antritrust Division - the section of the operation it's been having most trouble with. According to a report in today's Washington Post, Microsoft allies and lobbyists are pushing for Congress to cut $9 million from the Division's funding next year. Jack Krumholtz, Microsoft's director of government affairs, says the move stems from "some serious concerns about some of the DoJ's conduct" during the litigation, which you might translate as "we don't like it that the DoJ is winning". The antitrust division wants 18 more lawyers and para-legals, and has requested a budget of $114.3 million. At present, the Senate favours $112.3 million and the House $105.2 million. Senator Slade Gorton (Republican, Washington state) is the prime Microsoft cheerleader (Related story). His spokeswoman said that he was confident of getting the Senate figure lowered. The campaign to hobble the Division might be seen as a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but on the other hand it could suggest that MS sees a long drawn out appeals process, and still thinks it can undermine the DoJ's ability to fight it. Apart from Microsoft's direct efforts, it has also wooed Washington-based lobbying organisations by inviting them to a jolly three days of wining, dining and, er... sport in Seattle, with an "hour or so" of briefing that doesn't even mention the budget issue, according to Eric Gustafson of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Notwithstanding this omission, six of the organisations sent a letter to the House appropriations committee supporting a budget reduction. Meanwhile, we must await Judge Jackson's decision as to whether he will order Microsoft to pay the DoJ its legal costs, as it requested. ®

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