Shareholders Ask Disclosure of Microsoft's Political Spending


Press Release
For Immediate Release - November 7, 2000
Contact: bleondar-wright@faireconomy.org">Betsy Leondar-Wright
(617) 423-2148 x13


Update . . . 11/9/00

Resolution Vote Results

% voting YES: 7.6%

Note: Shareholder resolutions face a variety of obstacles. For this reason, it is considered significant if a resolution garners at least 5% of the vote. Votes over 10% indicate exceptional shareholder support for an issue.

Filers of "social-issue" resolutions generally don't expect their resolution to receive a majority vote and be adopted by management. Rather, filers use these resolutions to get management's attention, and to raise the issue with other shareholders. They hope to achieve a vote sufficient to allow them to return the next year.

According to SEC rules, a resolution must receive 3% of the vote the first year it is filed, 6% in year two and 10% thereafter in order to be included on the proxy the following year.

 

Shareholders Ask Disclosure
of Microsoft’s Political Spending

At Microsoft’s annual meeting on Thursday, November 9 in Seattle, WA, a member of Responsible Wealth will present a shareholder resolution calling on the company to report its political contributions, including unregulated soft money contributions and lobbying expenses, as well as its position on campaign finance reform legislation.

Microsoft is the nation’s second largest corporate soft money contributor with more than $3.4 million in unregulated soft money contributions in the two-year period now ending. In 1999, Microsoft spent another $4.6 million lobbying members of Congress.

"We have just completed the most expensive federal election campaigns in the history of the United States, much of it fueled by soft money and PAC contributions. Is our company succeeding solely on the basis of its ability to innovate and to serve customers better or because of its access to political leaders that can provide a host of tax breaks, subsidies, and regulations that treat our company advantageously?," asked Lois Canright.

Canright is a Responsible Wealth member who will present the resolution at the meeting, to be held at the Seattle World Trade Center at 8 a.m. on Thursday. The resolution was filed by two other Responsible Wealth members, Rosemary Faulkner and Mark Horowitz, and by Trillium Asset Management.

Several other corporations – General Motors, Monsanto, Honeywell, Ameritech and Time Warner -- have responded to the public outcry against big money in politics and have taken a lead in changing their policies to forbid soft money contributions.

The shareholder resolution is one of 14 filed by Responsible Wealth in 2000 to encourage companies to share rewards more widely. Responsible Wealth is a growing network of over 450 businesspeople, investors and affluent Americans in the top 5 percent of income and wealth who are concerned about growing economic inequality and working to promote widely shared prosperity. It is affiliated with the national nonprofit organization, United for a Fair Economy.

The Microsoft and other shareholder resolutions are available here.

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