FC: More on Rep. John Conyers's request for info about pro-MS talks

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Wed Nov 07 2001 - 11:40:31 PST

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    From: Jason Thomas <jthomasat_private>
    To: "'declanat_private'" <declanat_private>
    Subject: RE: Rep. John Conyers asks DOJ to reveal info about pro-MS talks
    Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 13:19:25 -0500
    
    Declan,
    
    Microsoft's lobbying activity is a legacy of the case.  They have learned
    well from the inquisition.  After all, how many times have you heard someone
    spout off about how na´ve it was for Microsoft not to fund a cadre of D.C.
    lawyers and lobbyists before the suit?  Now that Microsoft has learned the
    value of hosting lunches and paying consultants to visit with policymakers,
    it is fitting that some of the same DC "insiders" find it unseemly.
    
    This legacy will have profoundly negative consequences because it reaffirms
    the basic socialistic pretension that consumers are less fit to pick winners
    and losers in the marketplace than regulators in Washington, D.C.  This
    means that private businesses still must concern themselves with the
    preferences of consumers, but they must also devote a significant portion of
    their time and resources to Washington, because any disgruntled competitor
    can trump consumer sovereignty with a coordinated effort backed by
    well-placed lobbyists and politicians.
    
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     From Anonymous:
    
    Declan -
    
    (off the record)
    
    You're making a completely invalid comparison.
    
    Klein was head of antitrust enforcement -- he's required as part of his job
    to speak with anyone with an interest in the case.  Israelite is RECUSED
    from the case -- he shouldn't have been talking to anyone about the case,
    and he may have violated the law by doing so.  And I'm surprised that you
    think it's all right for career attorneys at Justice to be threatened for
    not going along with politically-motivated efforts to tank the case.
    
    For Conyers to seek info about this is entirely appropriate.
    
    [I think that's a reasonable point, but Conyers is not talking just about 
    one fellow. His letter demands "copies of any and all 'communications' (as 
    defined above), by any Department employees or consultants regarding a 
    possible settlement or proposing any suggestions or differing terms than 
    those you agreed to." Conyers has said he opposes the settlement and it's 
    reasonable to assume that he'll do anything within reason to scuttle it. --DBM]
    
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    Quick off-the-record comment:
    
    I have no particular opinion one way or the other about the wisdom of the 
    lawsuit or the proposed settlement.
    
    But I'm not sure that the situations you compare are fairly 
    comparable.  Rules of ethics or professional responsibility can differ in 
    their applicability based on whether parties are in actual 
    litigation.  Once you're in court (especially this far in the proceedings) 
    things might well be different.
    
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    Subject: Re: FC: Rep. John Conyers asks DOJ to reveal info about pro-MS talks
    To: declanat_private
    From: "Ted Killheffer" <Ted.Killhefferat_private>
    Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 13:24:22 -0500
    
    Declan, I have no axe to grind re the proposed Microsoft settlement.  I do
    find much of the talk about "lobbying" to be a bit disingenuous.  Would a
    Klein/Barksdale meeting be inappropriate when DOJ was deciding whether to
    charge Microsoft in the first place but appropriate when Justice was
    developing the case that they had already brought?  Are meetings between
    Microsoft and DOJ ok when conducted by lawyers but tainted when Microsoft's
    representatives are lobbyists?  How do you tell the difference?  The cost
    of their suits?
    
    I should think that congressmen, of all people, would be reluctant to cast
    these charges around.  Don't they imply that votes or administrative
    actions are for sale?  Or is it that, when your enemies do it, it's
    improper influence but when you do it, it's constituent service?
    
    Makes you wonder!
    
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    From: "Harold Burstyn" <harold.burstynat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    References: <5.1.0.14.0.20011107102914.02cfe010at_private>
    Subject: Re: Rep. John Conyers asks DOJ to reveal info about pro-MS talks
    Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 13:31:02 -0500
    
     > ...Personally, I think it's
     > reasonable to be concerned by clandestine influence-peddling talks -- of
     > any kind.
    
    I agree.
    
     > Conyers, alas, seems only interested in condemning the kind of
     > clandestine talks that could lead to a settlement in the Microsoft case.
    
    Thank goodness, in an age of money politics, there are legislators on both
    sides. You wouldn't want all the influence coming from only one side, would
    you?
    
    Harold L. Burstyn, Attorney-at-Law (NY & FL) and Registered Patent Attorney
    216 Bradford Parkway, Syracuse NY 13224-1767, tel. (315) 445-0620
    mailto:burstynhat_private  http://www.ecs.syr.edu/faculty/burstyn/
    
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    Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 13:36:57 -0500
    To: declanat_private
    From: "James M. Ray" <jray@free-market.net>
    Subject: Re: FC: Rep. John Conyers asks DOJ to reveal info about pro-MS
      talks
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
    X-UIDL: cf2abec0a39a3f6c339cf0f600b9e3ba
    
    At 12:02 PM -0500 11/07/2001, Declan McCullagh wrote:
    ...
     >Now Conyers is in a snit because some DOJers might have been having, gasp,
     >some favorable-to-Microsoft conversations! Personally, I think it's
     >reasonable to be concerned by clandestine influence-peddling talks -- of
     >any kind. Conyers, alas, seems only interested in condemning the kind of
     >clandestine talks that could lead to a settlement in the Microsoft case.
    ...
    
    The distinction isn't which big-corporation, for a hyper-partisan Democrat like
    John Conyers, it's instead a question of "which political party is doing the
    influence-peddling?" I never saw Conyers complaining about the influence of
    the Lippo Group! I think a majority of people would agree that Bill Gates, 
    using
    his checkbook, could easily shut Congresscritter Conyers up in about an hour.
    JMR
    
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