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PR gaffe of the week: Gates gives $10m to Capitol Hill

Foundation spends money on making founder look bad. Right.

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MS on Trial. Not Just the week after Bill Gates toured Washington in the wake of Judge Jackson's guilty verdict, it's been revealed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to donate $10 million towards the construction of a visitors' centre on Capitol Hill. As the Foundation is nothing to do with Microsoft (no, really...) then the donation is nothing to do with the trial. And as the donation can't therefore have been masterminded by Microsoft's spinmeisters, it can't be yet another example of Microsoft's infinite capacity for PR own-goals. But who the hell's going to believe that? Whether it was a case of somebody at the Foundation thinking it was a good idea to offer the donation or whether some of Bill's friends on the hill thought it was a good idea to ask is neither here nor there. No matter how often you say it's not intended as a bribe, it's going to look like one, and so Bill and Microsoft are going to sustain further damage to their already battered reputations. Great idea, people - lets spend $10 million of Bill's money on making him look bad. According to Foundation public affairs director Trevor Neilson, the donation has been in the pipeline for many months, and is nothing to do with the trial. The trial of course has been going on for several years, and you'd kind of think at least one of the Foundation's brains trust, or at least one of Bill's friends on the hill, would have noticed it, and anticipated the scope for friendly fire casualties. ® Related Stories Gates hits Washington in serial lobbying schmooze MS, Bush little helper says sorry, keeps both jobs

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