MS trial – verdict due next Friday

Our Graham makes death-defying predictive leap -- ooooh...

MS on Trial We can reveal that Judge Jackson will issue his findings of fact next Friday, 29 October, according to a source in a position to know about these things. Microsoft has been stepping up its lobbying efforts in preparation for adverse findings, with lobbyists at the ready in all states that are participating in the linked case brought by the states against Microsoft. The thrust of the campaign was going to be that the economy would suffer as a result of any persecution of Microsoft, but this will now have to be re-thought somewhat in view of yesterday's events on the Street. Former Republican party chairman Haley Barbour, previously retained by Microsoft to work on recalcitrant Republican governors, has been trying to persuade Hartford, Connecticut area business economists that it is wrong for the DoJ to attempt to regulate the Internet through the courts, and that the case should not have been brought. He was rather upset that not many people turned up to listen to him. Between 1997 and 1998, Microsoft tripled its total political contributions of soft and hard money, giving about two-thirds of its contributions (including those from its staff) to the Republicans. Officially, Microsoft spent $3.2 million in 1998 on political contributions. The soft money includes paying for parties and supporting advertisers that back approved candidates, so getting around the campaign-limit law. In March Microsoft sponsored a table at a National Republican Congressional Committee fund raiser, and although the table fee was only $25,000 it is normal practice for much larger sums to be given. Time magazine reported its belief that the committee had asked Microsoft for $1 million. Microsoft has also retained four former members of Congress, two Republican and two Democrat, and is supported by Gates' local rep, Republican Senator Slade Gorton, although Gates is reckoned to be a closet Democrat insofar as he cares about politics at all. Apart from the current preparations for a lobbying blitz, we have already seen the charity card being played in a clumsy attempt to whip up popular support. On Wednesday, it was announced that the latest gift was to the New York State Library, which received $7.7 million from the Gates Foundation to provide computers, Internet access and training. Stand-by for news of more donations to particularly heart-tugging charities in early November. Microsoft will also be considering the possibility of getting Congress to enact legislation to nullify any decision by the courts, "in the national interest". This has been done once before, when AT&T managed to get many of the onerous conditions of the break-up swept aside with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The obstacle that Microsoft faces in any lobbying effort is its own lack of political sophistication - something that cannot be readily bought with money. ® Full Register trial coverage

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