Microsoft used the take-out-the-trash time of Friday evening to announce its political action committee (PAC) has suspended donations to US politicians who voted to object to the certification of electors in the 2020 US presidential election, or who “supported such objections or suggested the election should be overturned.”
The suspension will run “for the duration of the 2022 election cycle”. The next congressional elections are on November 8th, 2022, so Microsoft’s “suspension” will run for under two years.
The policy was revealed in a post to Microsoft’s blog that repeated the text of an email sent to staff by Fred Humphries, the company’s corporate veep of US government affairs.
The mail says that Microsoft’s PAC is funded by voluntary donations from staff, shareholders, and family members, and that around 300 staffers participated in “six listening sessions with interested employees to have a dialogue and listen.”
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Those sessions resulted in the donation suspension mentioned above. They also elicited the opinion that some stakeholders would rather direct funds to “address the issues and policies that are important to the preservation and promotion of democracy” rather than sending cash to candidates.
Microsoft has therefore resolved to create “a new Democracy Forward Initiative to support organizations that promote public transparency, campaign finance reform, and voting rights” to make that happen.
Another outcome was a decision to “promote and join a conversation with other businesses and organizations that want to strengthen democracy.”
Microsoft’s final decision was to change the name of its PAC from the current “Microsoft Corporation Political Action Committee” to “Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC (MSVPAC).”
Microsoft’s PAC spent $1,926,971 in the 2020 election cycle, of which $837,000 went to federal candidates: 56.6 per cent of that pot went to Republican candidates and 43.4 per cent went to Democrats, according to opensecrets.org.
We will suspend contributions to all members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of electors
In a previous post Microsoft said 20 per cent of donations in the last four years went to members of Congress who voted against the electoral college.
The suspension therefore impacts perhaps $120,000 of donations to federal candidates. Which is a drop in the ocean.
The change of name to Microsoft’s PAC could have wider impact, because by making it plain that Microsoft itself isn’t the source of funds and doesn’t direct their use it insulates Microsoft from widely-circulated accusations of Big Tech bias against right-wing politicians.
With the suspension lasting under two years, it also means the PAC could soon resume donating to candidates that opposed due democratic process on dubious grounds. ®