Microsoft Buys Some New Republican Friends

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For a company that was once loath to play in the political sandbox, Microsoft sure has come around. Mere days before the opening of Microsofts court battle with antitrust lawyers, the GOPs senatorial committee pulled in a $100,000 contribution from the company, and the Republican National Committee got a $40,000 check - bringing the software giants soft-money gifts to the party to more than $400,000 in the 1997-98 election cycle. Coincidentally, about that time, 10 Republican senators signed a Dear Colleague letter criticizing the Clinton administration for subjecting the software industry to needless regulation through overzealous enforcement of antitrust laws. We must protect our high-tech industrys freedom to innovate, said the Oct. 12 letter, copying Microsofts p.r. machine practically verbatim. While the letter was circulating, CEO Bill Gates appeared in North Carolina with one of his most vocal Senate defenders, Lauch Faircloth, who is locked in a squeaker of a race. Gates didnt endorse Faircloth, but spoke warmly of him and thanked him for his help.