Microsoft employees criticize the company's political donations

Microsoft sign on a building
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Microsoft employees have criticized the company for donating to politicians who oppose a peaceful transition to a Joe Biden presidency.

The criticisms emerged after the Microsoft president, Brad Smith, signed a letter calling on Congress to certify the Electoral College's approval of Biden's win in a process due to take place today.

"This presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward," the letter said. "President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have won the Electoral College and the courts have rejected challenges to the electoral process. Congress should certify the electoral vote on Wednesday, January 6. Attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy."

Smith also tweeted his support for a peaceful transition on Monday. However, this drew criticism from employees who highlighted Microsoft's donations to politicians who oppose the election’s outcome.

Microsoft maintains a political action committee (PAC) that donates to Democrats and Republicans. Company employee Jake Friedman was the first to respond to Smith's tweet, saying, "Hey Brad, maybe we can stop giving those who want to disrupt the 'peaceful transition of power' Microsoft's money. Thanks."

Friedman's tweet carried an image of a Microsoft PAC donation to Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who has also called for a debate over the election result.

In response to Friedman, Microsoft employee Mike O'Neill said he would stop contributing to Microsoft's PAC.

Microsoft has also donated to other politicians contesting the election result. On January 2, 11 senators led by Ted Cruz announced they wanted further investigation into the election following allegations of voter fraud. "Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states," the statement said.

Federal records show Microsoft’s PAC donated to several politicians who made this statement, including Cruz and Senators Ron Johson of Wisconsin and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. The PAC also gave money to senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Roger Marshall of Kansas, who put their names to the statement.

Another Microsoft worker, Brandon Paddock, called for the disbanding of Microsoft's PAC altogether. "So let’s get rid of MSPAC, or at least stop it contributing to people trying to undermine those democratic principles," he said.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.