What you need to know
- Microsoft will suspend its PAC contributions through the 2022 election cycle to members of Congress who voted to object the certification of electors.
- The company is creating a Democracy Forward Initiative that focuses on promoting public transparency, campaign finance reform, and voting rights.
- Microsoft will rename its PAC to the Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC (MSVPAC).
Microsoft announced several changes to how it will handle political contributions going forward that go through its PAC. The PAC has a new name and will not make contributions for any members of Congress who voted to object the certification of electors (through the 2022 election cycle). Microsoft will also create what it calls the Democracy Forward Initiative to give its employees another option for donations.
Microsoft halted political contributions from the PAC last month following recent political events, including the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Microsoft President Brad Smith controversially defended and explained the donations in a private meeting to Microsoft employees, though donations stayed paused. The company then held six listening sessions with employees to discuss the PAC and how donations are handled. Now, several changes have occurred.
Microsoft outlines the changes in a blog post:
First, we will suspend contributions for the duration of the 2022 election cycle to all members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of electors. We will also suspend contributions for the same period for state officials and organizations who supported such objections or suggested the election should be overturned.
Second, we've heard from some members of the PAC community who do not want to contribute to political candidates but instead would like to donate to work that will address the issues and policies that are important to the preservation and promotion of democracy. To address this, we will create a new Democracy Forward Initiative to support organizations that promote public transparency, campaign finance reform, and voting rights. We will have more details to share in coming weeks on the creation of this fund and how employees can contribute to it.
Third, we will promote and join a conversation with other businesses and organizations that want to strengthen democracy. Recent events have raised issues of importance to PACs across the business community and companies across the nation, and we believe there is an opportunity to learn and work together.
Finally, while less impactful, some employees felt the current PAC name did not capture the fact that it is funded exclusively by voluntary donations of Microsoft stakeholders – shareholders, employees, and family members – to support Microsoft's business objectives. We will therefore rename our PAC the Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC (MSVPAC).
These changes mark a major shift in how Microsoft handles political donations through its PAC. Not only will the company not donate to specific members of Congress due to their stance on certifying electors (through the 2022 election cycle), Microsoft is providing another option for Microsoft employees.
The Democracy Forward Initiative focuses on promoting public transparency, campaign finance reform, and voting rights. Microsoft will share more details on this in the coming weeks, but it will allow employees to donate to an initiative that addresses specific topics and reform.
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