Former Clinton White House spokeswoman Ginny
Terzano and ex-GOP chairman Haley Barbour seldom found themselves
on the same side of political debates. But now they're allies in
Microsoft Corp.'s high-stakes antitrust battle with the government.
Terzano and Barbour are among an army of major players in both
political parties who have been hired by the computer software
maker as it seeks to turn the political and legal tide in its favor
after several setbacks in Washington.
Microsoft also counts former advisers to President Bush and
Attorney General John Ashcroft among its team hires that well
position the company to pursue a settlement of the antitrust case
with the new Republican administration.
Democrats like Terzano help it reach out to the other party as
well a key asset with a Congress so evenly divided between
Republicans and Democrats.
"It's the culture of this town. It's not unlike working on a
campaign," said Terzano, who worked for former President Clinton
and then Al Gore's unsuccessful presidential bid and has returned
as a spokeswoman for Microsoft's Washington office.
Microsoft shunned Washington for years as it built a software
empire 3,000 miles away in Redmond, Wash. But regulatory setbacks
and the Clinton's administration's historic antitrust case that led
a federal judge to order the breakup of the company prompted
Microsoft to quickly boost its resources in the capital.
Now, it is a huge political donor and frequent sponsor of
"They've been part of every political activity, all the
leadership programs and (political action committees)," said Doyce
Boesch, a consultant for Microsoft rival Oracle Corp. "They've
hired a number of people out of leadership. There's not much that
they're not attending or co-hosting."
The company faces its latest test in two weeks when a federal
appeals court in Washington hears its challenge to the
And while negotiations seeking a settlement went nowhere with
the Clinton administration, Microsoft is well armed if it wishes to
reopen talks with the Bush administration.
Paul Clement, a former adviser to Ashcroft; C. Boyden Gray,
White House counsel to former President Bush; and Ed Gillespie, an
adviser to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, are in the
"They add luster to (Microsoft's) side, establishment figures
saying that it's not just a bunch of kooky right-wing types that
support Microsoft," said Bob Lande, a University of Baltimore
School of Law professor who has followed the case.
Of course, both sides don't expect to win over Congress and the
public just with familiar faces. Microsoft and its competitors are
also major political contributors.
Microsoft gave a total of $1,296,079 to Republicans and $954,792
to Democrats during the 1999-2000 election cycle, federal records
Microsoft's most vocal rivals Sun Microsystems, AOL Time
Warner and Oracle gave smaller amounts that total about the same
as Microsoft's donations. But they still feel outgunned.
"There's a lot more companies but their resources are a lot
less than Microsoft's," Boesch said. "They don't have a million
dollars to give. They don't have the huge PACs to give substantial
amounts to any member. When it comes from one lump sum from
Microsoft it's more readily felt."
Despite having its own staff of lobbyists, Microsoft has spent
heavily to bring in big-name Washington figures. It spent $300,000
in 2000 for lobbying efforts through Barbour's company, according
to congressional records.
The competitors also have some big names to make their case
Former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and former Supreme
Court nominee Robert Bork a respected antitrust scholar are
working for ProComp, an organization dedicated to helping the
Justice Department win its case against Microsoft and funded by its
Lande called the hirings of Starr and Bork "brilliant moves"
by Microsoft's critics.
"They have impeccable conservative credentials," Lande said.
"Since they are former judges on the D.C. Court of Appeals, to say
they have credibility on the appeals court is an understatement."
Walter Dellinger, Clinton's former solicitor general, also
advises Microsoft's opponents. And former Clinton press secretary
Joe Lockhart now works for Oracle amid speculation the company also
is wooing Clinton to sit on its board.
Microsoft says the aggressive lobbying by its competitors
prompted it to increase its own Washington resources.
"We can't allow our competitors to have a one-way dialogue
about us," Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma said. "We will make
sure that our views are known."