(Jack Abramoff, RR's favorite College Boy)
I'm doing some research regarding Jack Abramoff's early years and have just finished his recent book 'Capitol Punishment', which also sheds light on Microsoft and the firm's representation by Preston Gates and Ellis; a circumstantially curious pair of events in my personal life. Regardless, the Microsoft relationship with PGE is worth documenting on its own, as such the following.
Abramoff was brought into the lobbying business by the Preston Gates Ellis firm immediately after the 1994 takeover of the House of Representatives, the same election that begat us Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Abramoff's initial reaction to the offer was negative. From the book: "Lobbyists were those evil corporate pukes who disdained (conservative) ideologues like me. They were the guys in the $2,000 suits who sucked the lifeblood out of our nation. Why would I ever become one of those guys?"
As history recalls Mr. Abramoff did change his mind on this subject, seeing the job as an opportunity to get the "government off Microsoft's back". Mr. Abramoff never mentions the fact that the biggest government problem Microsoft was having was an anti-competitive anti-trust action by the Department of Justice.
No doubt the relatively low starting salary of $150,000 a year was also persuasive to the financially challenged failed businessman and former prima donna college activist.
As Mr. Abramoff had trained many of the newly elected representatives and their staff in the 'class' of 1994 as head of the national College Republicans during the Reagan years he was perfect for the job. Soon he had a track record of success under his belt, including Microsoft, and a doubled salary.
This raises the question - was Microsoft really an American success story or was it just a legal intellectual property rights scam by a law firm well schooled in manipulating government? Is Microsoft a business success or a 'big government' failure?
Abramoff cites Bill Gates father as being the senior partner of the firm and their primary client, Microsoft. This is somewhat common knowledge in the greater Seattle area, though I don't recall it often getting mentioned in the press. Word around town also gives Gates Senior's prior role with this dominant firm as their divorce lawyer, a fact I have not yet verified. This would, however, be curiously consistent with Junior's relationship with IBM, a contract obtained via an introduction of his mother's through the national United Way Board.
I'll now quote, via fair use, Mr. Abramoff at a bit more length - comments in parentheses are my own.
The firm (Preston Gates Ellis) was so close to Microsoft that the sometimes operated like symbiotic organisms, nurturing each other. The revolving door between the firm and Microsoft was constantly in motion. The head of legal affairs at the company had come from the firm. Attorneys at the firm had worked at Microsoft. (Is Microsoft managed by software engineers or unaccountable lawyers? How many U.S. Corporations are now run in a similar fashion, in part helped by Microsoft Software?) But this cozy connection wasn't evident in the day-to-day working relationship, at least not in the lobbying area.
There seemed to be constant tension in the Washington (D.C.) office of the firm about Microsoft, in part because of the personality (damn liberals!) who headed the representation. Bruce Heiman was an intelligent and cautious attorney who had previously worked for the late Senator Patrick Moynihan, an iconic liberal Senator from New York.
My job was to assess whether Microsoft could find allies on the right to help combat the assault Washington was directing at them. At that point in the company's development, they had been thwarted from purchasing Intuit (thank god!), makers of the popular software Quicken. The anti-trust crowd was just about to unleash hell on the company, and they were trying to determine how they should approach the political landscape. Naturally, I was a strong advocate of Microsoft aligning itself with free market activists and others on the right. (In Washington D.C. presumably an anti-competitive pro corporate group, in spite of all the rhetoric to the contrary.) While the conservative base might no appreciate the cultural liberalism of the company, or its history of supporting candidates on the left, getting the government off one's back played right to the sweet spot of most right-leaning groups. I forcefully advocated that Microsoft shift the focus of their contributions from environmental and population control organizations to free market and traditional conservative groups.
In 1995, when Microsoft needed access to the House Republican Leadership, conservatives were there to help. When the company started to feel the Clinton administration's pressure (Clinton, a former Attorney General in Arkansas, knew how to manage government lawyers - a curious contrast to both of his successors Bush AND Obama.) on the issue of software program encryption export, it was Majority Whip Tom DeLay (indicted 2005, convicted 2010) who came to the rescue. ... DeLay expressed his general support for their positions and reminded them it was likely to be the Republicans who would defend the freedom they required (to rip off their competitors) to develop their company. He made a soft appeal for political contributions from the company...
One of the Microsoft executives firmly brushed off his solicitation, prompting DeLay to to deliver a stern message. When he was a freshman in Congress, he told them he approached Walmart for a campaign contribution. The government affairs director of Walmart told him that Walmart din't like to "sully their hands" (good for them!) with political involvement. Staring intently at the Microsoft executives, DeLay continued: "A year later that government affairs rep was in my office asking me to intervene to get an exit built from the federal highway adjacent to a new Walmart store. (a common legal play in the transportation field, a particular area of expertise of the Preston Gates Ellis firm, being the prime state and local bond underwriter for Washington State at that time - the 'old school' highway boys.) I told him I didn't want to sully my hands with such a task. You know what? They didn't get their ramp. You know what else? They will never get that ramp."
DeLay smiled, without taking his eyes off the quivering executives. As we would say in the lobbying business (I personally wouldn't call it a 'business'.): They finally got the joke. A $100,000 check was soon delivered to the Republican Congressional Committee, and Microsoft's relationship with the American right (thugs) commenced. Fortunately for Microsoft, they couldn't have asked for better teammates. At my suggestion, they soon engaged Grover Norquist to advise them. (with Americans for Tax Reform, the no tax increase pledge guy, college years cohort of Abramoff's.) ... Based on his reputation, Grover was instantly hired by Microsoft as they attempted to encourage Republicans to support their legislative agenda. They also spread their contributions to most of the other conservative groups I had been suggesting ...
P.S. Mr Abramoff: the conclusion of your 'reform' book is as much bullshit as any of the 'reform' initiatives in Washington D.C. that you document well in later pages describing the progression of your career. Sure, ending special interests is the way to go, but just calling for same does not make it happen. As you confess in your book you have no business experience, and you still haven't learned what it means to "git 'er done". As such your book is, as George Clooney would phrase it, just a "Jack-Off".
P.S. Levi, Alex, Daniel, Livia, and Sarah: Your father gave you the advantages of an upper class upbringing, but it was stolen money. I do hope you turned into productive members of society, but unless you pay back the money your father stole from the public and private sectors you are complicit in his conspiratorial, seditious, and traitorous actions. Hopefully your mother, Pam, raised you to be better than that - but if you fail to take adult responsibility - of which all of you now are, your only accomplishment will be to make it clear she is nothing but a whore, and worse. Also, kids, you know that money your dad gave to the your schools - your classmates and teachers need to pay that back too.
P.S. Corporate America: You have failed. Own your failure. Ca Piche, Niggers?
P.S. Massad Intelligence Service: Did you 'broker' the deal whereby the slave nation of S. Africa funded Mr. Abramoff's activities in 1986? You should understand that such an action would be the equivalent of the Sadduccees collaborating with the military industrial empire of the Romans in their anti-semitic, anti-people activities, including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and 100,000 other jews? Was that deal payment for Abramoff's attacks against the S. African Divestment Movement of the Reagan years, especially in his alma mater state of Massachusetts?
P.S. Evangelical America: Isn't it about time you finish the job, finish the Jewish prophecy of the 'Son of David' defeating the military industrial empire? Isn't it about time you crucify yourselves?
Git 'er Done, boys.