TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP URGES DOJ TO DROP COSTLY MICROSOFT ANTITRUST CASE | Citizens Against Government Waste

TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP URGES DOJ TO DROP COSTLY MICROSOFT ANTITRUST CASE

Press Release

For Immediate Release   Contact:  Jim Campi or Aaron Taylor
September 2, 1999(202) 467-5300

 

Citing recent industry developments, Citizens Against Government Waste argues that high tech competion has pulled the rug out from under the Justice Department’s costly lawsuit.

(Washington, D.C.) – Thomas A. Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), issued the following statement today in response to the announcement by Sun Microsystems that it has purchaced StarOffice and will begin to give away its software package on the Internet.  Mr. Schatz believes this is another example of how the case against the Microsoft Corporation is an unncessary waste of tax dollars.

“The government’s case against the Microsoft Corporation is becoming less a matter of antitrust and more a matter of ethics every day it is dragged on.  The only question is who is setting the lowest standard of conduct – the Justice Department and state attorney generals who took up the frivolous lawsuit, or Microsoft’s competitors who initiated the whole mess in the first place.

“In the past year, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has consistently challenged the government to consider the enormous amount of public resources that have been spent on this case.  We have also condemned the cagey strategy of Microsoft’s competitors, who have manipulated the federal justice system in a taxpayer-subsidized attempt to beat the software manufacturer into submission.  They set out to convince the Department of Justice (DOJ) to distract the company with an interminable lawsuit while they created new alliances and mergers, along with products designed to attack the core of Microsoft’s business.  While they’re at it, they have used the media to try to turn public opinion against the company so products from AOL, Sun, Netscape, and others will gain a greater market share.

“The list of reasons to drop the lawsuit is nearly endless.   In fact, there’s a new reason just about every day.  Yesterday’s announcement by Sun that is it buying StarOffice is just the latest in a long line of industry advances that make DOJ’s case moot.  It’s little wonder that Microsoft has a reputation for continual research and development, as well as a justifiable concern that it has to innovate in order to stay ahead of the pack.  There’s never been anything wrong with that – most call it the American way.

“The bureaucrats at DOJ, and their companions at the state attorney generals’ (AG) offices, would rather fight than admit they can’t keep up with the times.  They also won’t admit how much they’re spending on this case.  CAGW estimates that DOJ has spent between $30 and $60 million to date; DOJ won’t respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to confirm or deny that figure.

“At the state level, the release of information to CAGW regarding cost has been haphazard, at best.  Several states have been forthcoming; others have obfuscated and hidden behind their own FOIA laws.  For example, the office of Illinois State Attorney General Jim Ryan, which is in charge of collecting money from the 19 states involved in the case, would not even admit the existence of the joint agreement she administers out of his office.  Other states provided a copy of that agreement.  CAGW has been able to determine that close to $2 million has been spent jointly by the states to date, but that does not include a plethora of expenses, such as spending on hourly rates for staff attorneys or outside attorneys, phone calls, legal research, faxes, travel and other expenses.

“At the same time the state AGs and DOJ are considering asking Microsoft to reveal its “secret sauce” – the source code for its software – they will not even tell their clients, the American taxpayers, how much they’re spending on the case.  It’s time for the crusade against Microsoft to end.  The attorneys pursuing the case with other people’s money should tell the truth about their costs, and admit that the future of Microsoft – and that of the whole information technology industry – will be decided in the marketplace, not in the courtroom.”

CAGW is a 600,000 member nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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