In the aftermath of the Bush administrations decision not to seek a breakup of Microsoft, some are alleging that the Redmond, Wash., software maker has successfully bought its way out of trouble.
"Its hardly a surprise that the Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department has flip-flopped and is no longer seeking an effective remedy against Microsoft. Microsoft put their bets on this horse and now it is time to collect their winnings," said Common Cause in a statement.
The Center for Responsive Politics agreed: "The decision by the Bush administration to vacate the lawsuit that was first initiated in 1998 by the Clinton Justice Department is considered a major victory for Microsoft, which nearly tripled its campaign contributions and more than doubled its lobbying expenditures during its fight against the antitrust case."
According to the Center, during the 1999-2000 election cycle, Microsoft contributed more than $4.7 million in soft money, political action committee and individual contributions to federal candidates and parties - almost three times what the company contributed during the previous three election cycles combined. More than two-thirds of that money went to Republicans.
The CRP also said the Bush campaign reported $61,250 in contributions from Microsoft employees during 1999-2000.
Microsoft officials could not be reached for comment.
A senior Justice department official yesterday rejected the accusation that the administration may have forced the Department of Justice to throw the case.
"The decisions about this case are being made in the Department of Justice," the official said. "[We] received no input from the White House."
Still, the announcement that the government would not seek a breakup remedy was not unexpected. Since its arrival in January, Bush officials have made it clear they adhere to an anti-regulatory philosophy.
"Its not a real surprise that the Bush administration would prefer a conduct remedy," said Jonathan Baker, an associate professor of law at American University.