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December 14, 2007

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Dr. Gene Nelson

The developments in the Abramoff Scandal continue. BLT readers will note that the Bush administration claim of secrecy regarding Abramoff's White House visits were rejected by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth on December 17, 2007.

The Abramoff - Microsoft Corporation connection continues to be clarified. Microsoft utilizes other organizations to obscure the path connecting its lobbying dollars to legislators, among other purposes. There is an organization named the Business Software Alliance (BSA) which in many ways serves as a Microsoft proxy. BSA membership dues are related to software sales volume. Microsoft is dominant by this measure. Press accounts have also disclosed that when the BSA uncovers evidence of software piracy, the violator is given the "choice" of purchasing Microsoft software packages as an alternative to paying a large legal settlement. Many violators choose the Microsoft software purchase option. Thus, BSA may be viewed as an extension of Microsoft's sales organization. Examination of BSA's lobbying disclosure documents, particularly during the critical period from 1998 to 2000, makes clear that Abramoff (and team) were employed by BSA. There are multi million dollar "lobbying expenditures" flowing through BSA and its allies. This is in addition to the over $20 million directly expended by Microsoft (and lobbying firms with Microsoft as a client) during the 1998-2000 period - and the millions Microsoft directly and indirectly expended in campaign finance contributions during the period. The "official acts" that Microsoft facilitated included beneficial (to Microsoft) changes in H-1B visa legislation in 1996, 1998, and 2000. This author, among others, uses the term "Abramoff Visa" as shorthand for the controversial H-1B visa program.

In addition, recent lobbying disclosure documents show the substantial lobbying sums being currently expended by Microsoft via Cornerstone Government Affairs (CGA). The lawyer - lobbyist is Michael D. Smith whose bio appears here: http://www.cgagroup.com/staffContent.aspx?id=20. Note that Mike's bio fails to disclose his employment with Greenberg-Traurig, where he was forced to resign in connection with a violation of its ethics policies while a member of "Team Abramoff." See: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Michael_D._Smith for some relevant details. BLT readers will likely not be surprised to learn that the H-1B visa program continues to be a legislative priority for Microsoft via CGA (and other entities.)

More details of this corruption continue to be discovered. This author believes that the role of former Rep. Tom DeLay in this scandal will become clearer.

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