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Justice chief queried over MS campaign contributions

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A Democrat representative on the US House Judiciary Committee has written to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking why he did not disqualify himself from participation in settlement talks in the Microsoft case, whereas he has done so in the case of the Enron investigation. Ashcroft's failed senate campaign in 2000 received contributions from both Microsoft and Enron.

Rep. John Conyers says the Ashcroft campaign received $20,000 from Microsoft in 2000, and queries why withdrawal is necessary in the case of Enron, but not in the case of Microsoft. He also queries Ashcroft's refusal to disclose details of his and other DoJ officials' contacts with Microsoft in relation to the settlement.

Conyers has earlier written to Ashcroft saying he was concerned about reports of improper contacts between DoJ officials and Microsoft. Ashcroft declined his request to list contacts, citing "substantial confidentiality interests." Microsoft itself reports spending $300,000 on antitrust-related lobbying in the first half of 2001. This is in addition to political contributions made by the company. ®

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