Microsoft pays cash to generate grassroots letters, says WSJ

NEW YORK: Microsoft and its lead lobbying firm have been accused of offering payments to individuals to write letters and make calls to lawmakers on their behalf.

NEW YORK: Microsoft and its lead lobbying firm have been accused of offering payments to individuals to write letters and make calls to lawmakers on their behalf.

NEW YORK: Microsoft and its lead lobbying firm have been accused of offering payments to individuals to write letters and make calls to lawmakers on their behalf.

Both parties deny the allegations - made by the Wall Street Journal on October 20 - that Century Strategies and its network of PR and lobbying partners 'generate grassroots (pro-Microsoft) comments for cash.'

The article, apparently quoting a leaked memorandum, detailed amounts paid: 'A letter to a member of Congress from a mayor or a local Republican Party official is worth dollars 200 ... a 'premier' letter or visit by a fundraiser known to the lawmaker ... can be worth up to dollars 450 apiece.'

When contacted by PRWeek, Microsoft spokesperson Rick Miller noted, 'It's no secret that Century Strategies is working for us, and it's no secret it is using fairly standard grassroots procedures. But the firm pays people to coordinate the letter writing, not actually write them.'

While the practice of paying people to correspond is not illegal, it is unethical, according to Wright Andrews, ethics chair for the American League of Lobbyists. 'In 30 years doing this, I have never heard of paying individuals to communicate with lawmakers. It's almost like buying votes,' he said.

In 1998, the LA Times ran an expose on Microsoft's grassroots efforts to generate Op-Eds and letters to the editor, leading to wide-scale criticism.





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