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Microsoft Out-Lobbies Key Competitors

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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 19) -- Microsoft spent about as much money lobbying the federal government last year as three of its top competitors combined, according to a report released Wednesday.

The survey by the Campaign Study Group, commissioned by Reuters, showed that in 1997 Sun Microsystems, Oracle Corp. and Netscape Communications together spent about $2 million in lobbying, compared to Microsoft's $1.9 million.

The numbers were compiled from Federal Election Commission data.

Over the past year Microsoft increased its lobbying expenditures by 67 percent. Of the software giant's three Silicon Valley rivals which also target significant amounts towards trying to influence the government, only Oracle also spent more money than the previous year.

Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., upped its lobbying spending by 50 percent between 1996 and 1997, from $600,000 to $900,000.

Sun Microsystems, of Palo Alto, Calif., decreased its lobbying efforts from $600,000 in 1996 to $420,000 in 1997.

Netscape Communications, of Mountain View, Calif., also cut back its expenditures, allocating $960,000 in 1996 and only $724,000 in 1997.

Netscape attorney Peter Harter told Reuters his company had pared its expenditures because some of the issues Netscape was lobbying for had died down in Washington.

Harter said the Justice Department's investigation of Microsoft for potential antitrust violations, which Netscape supported, would be unlikely to show up on the company's lobbying reports.

"Under the lobbying rules there are exceptions for activities in response to government inquiries," Harter told Reuters.

Neither Oracle or Sun commented on their efforts.

Both Microsoft and Oracle also contributed heavily to political parties. Oracle donated $168,000 in campaign contributions during the current election cycle. All but $7,000 went to Democrats.

So far, Microsoft has donated $183,000 in the 1998 campaign.

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Thursday March 19, 1998

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Documents:
Julie Steele Affidavit