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Microsoft Takes Money Off the Table for Republican Convention

Microsoft said it is departing from past practice of contributing money to fund the Republican National Convention, to take place in Cleveland this summer. However, it will offer both parties the use of Azure, Office 365 and Surfaces at their respective nominating events. The company, which said it will also sponsor host committee activities taking place during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, made its decision back in the fall and revealed the plan on Friday.

In a blog post explaining Microsoft's plans for the political conventions, Fred Humphries, Microsoft's corporate VP for U.S. government affairs, noted the company has provided support for both parties' national conventions since 2000 with the goal of helping supply technology that can give "voters' access to information to make informed decisions" and make sure "election results are reported accurately, efficiently and securely."

Four years ago, Microsoft provided the Republicans $1.5 million (according to published reports) when they gathered in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney. While Microsoft notified the Republican National Committee of its change last fall, the revelation came a day after Google told Politico it would be providing the official livestream of the Republican Convention. Emphasizing that their intent is to be bipartisan, while looking to give voters access to information coming out of both conventions, Google and Microsoft are finding themselves in an unfamiliar position with this year's contentious campaigns. Activist opponents of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump including ColorOfChange, Free Press Action Fund and others orchestrated an elaborate demonstration outside Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters last week where they collected 500,000 signatures seeking the company withdraw any support of the convention, according to the Politico report.

Humphries noted that Microsoft has received numerous inquiries about its plans for the convention for some time and said the company started considering how it would support both gatherings a year ago. "Based on our conversations with the Republican National Convention's host committee and committee on arrangements, we decided last fall to provide a variety of Microsoft technology products and services instead of making a cash donation. For the Democratic National Convention, we're providing access to similar Microsoft technology as well as some sponsorship of host committee activities," he said. "We believe that technology from Microsoft and other companies provides an important tool that helps the democratic process work better."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/02/2016 at 12:14 PM


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