Political Engagement

Read about the variety of
ways we participate in the
public policy process.

Political Engagement

Overview

Corporate participation in the public policy process is an important and essential means of enhancing shareholder value and is fundamental to free and democratic societies. Microsoft and our employees participate in the public policy process in the United States in a variety of ways – from corporate government affairs programs designed to educate and influence elected officials on key public policy issues related to the company's business, to individual political giving by employees through the Microsoft Political Action Committee, to membership in trade associations which help to advance our business objectives.

Responsibility in Governance and Reporting

The Regulatory and Public Policy Committee of the Microsoft Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the company's public policy work and related activities and receives regular, formal reports. Management of our participation in the political process in the United States is the responsibility of the Vice President for US Government Affairs who reports directly to Microsoft's General Counsel who reports to the company CEO. The Microsoft Political Action Committee Steering Committee, a bipartisan committee of Microsoft federal and state government affairs professionals, is responsible for oversight and day-to-day decision making related to political spending. Oversight of the committee spans corporate fund expenditures as well as employee and shareholder donations made via the MSPAC program.

Microsoft requires that those individuals who recommend corporate political contributions in the United States certify as to their knowledge of and adherence to these policies and practices. Outside ethics counsel reviews and approves all MSPAC and corporate political giving activities; filings; reports and materials. Microsoft publishes MSPAC and corporate political spending reports semi-annually on the corporate website.

Transparency in Public Policy Advocacy

We seek to ensure that our participation in the political process is transparent and for reasons that are clear and justifiable to our shareholders and the public. In compliance with regulations and our commitment to transparency, Microsoft regularly files and publishes reports that detail our advocacy activities. Our disclosures include consultant fees, lobbying expenses, and trade association dues spent on advocacy.

Public Policy Advocacy Spending

Expenditure graph
$7,540,000
$6,750,000
$6,912,000
$7,559,000
$9,780,000
$9,420,000
$2,935,602
$4,870,000
$6,870,000
$7,486,000
$7,920,000
$7,838,757

Compliance, Accountability and Transparency in Political Spending

Microsoft sponsors the Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC), to enable Microsoft employees and shareholders to participate more effectively in the U.S. political process. The committee, created in 1988, informs its members about important issues and government decisions that can affect Microsoft business. It also provides an opportunity for members to collectively support public policy positions that are important to Microsoft and the software industry. As a bipartisan organization that contributes to the campaigns of federal, state, and local candidates, MSPAC typically supports candidates who share Microsoft views on public policy, serve as congressional or legislative leaders, represent districts or states where Microsoft has a major business presence, or serve on committees that have jurisdiction over legislation that is important to the company.

The MSPAC Steering Committee meets regularly to evaluate candidates' public policy positions on issues that are relevant to Microsoft business or of particular interest to the computer software industry. The committee – composed of senior managers in Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft – then decides which candidates and campaigns MSPAC will support.

MSPAC Committee Members

Stephanie Peters Director of Government Affairs
Anne Gavin Director of Government Affairs
Matt Gelman Managing Director of Government Affairs
Ed Ingle Managing Director of Government Affairs
Brian Burke Director of Government Affairs
Mike Egan Director of Government Affairs
John Sampson Director of Government Affairs
Andrew Wise Director of Government Affairs

MSPAC Contributions

Corporate Contributions

Under U.S. law, corporations cannot support candidates for federal office. However, many states allow corporate donations to state and local candidates or to ballot issue campaigns. As a corporation, Microsoft makes political contributions to support candidates and ballot measures that are consistent with the company's public policy agenda and business interests.

Since July 2005, Microsoft has made no corporate contributions to any non-candidate or non-party political committee organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Beginning July 1, 2010, Microsoft will not pay for any independent expenditure or electioneering communication as those terms are defined by applicable law.

Note: As of October 2011, Microsoft committed to publishing corporate spending reports on a semi-annual basis. The above table will be updated with a mid-year report in July 2012.

Oversight and Transparency of Trade Association Memberships

Like all major corporations, Microsoft is a member of a number of trade associations (organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code) in the United States to help advance our public policy agenda and related business goals. We publicly disclose and update annually a list of those trade associations to which Microsoft pays dues and makes other expenditures through our Legal & Community Affairs. Each year, Microsoft inquires and makes a reasonable effort to obtain from those associations where our dues and other expenditures total $25,000 or more, what portion of the company's dues or payments were used for lobbying expenditures or political contributions. This information is publically disclosed and updated annually.