Microsoft talks politics…

In the proxy, that Microsoft (MSFT) filed earlier this week, there was an interesting new disclosure about Microsoft’s political contributions:

Microsoft recognizes the increasing interest of U.S. public company shareholders in establishing greater transparency of corporate political contributions. Microsoft discloses its political contributions to support candidates and ballot measures. Microsoft has also adopted principles for disclosure of dues payments or contributions to trade associations or other tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activity, and if available the amount of these contributions that the organization used for political activity.

There’s a link that takes you to this page where you can download four different PDF files: one for statewide candidates, another for federal candidates, another for committee contributions, and the last for corporate contributions. We’ve taken a quick skim of the federal PAC committee contributions and it shows that MSPAC contributed equally to Democrats and Republicans, giving $15K each to both parties’ Senate and Congressional Campaign Committees. We’re quite sure there’s other interesting details in the four documents too.

The bottom line is that Microsoft is doing this voluntarily, which in our book, at least, deserves a gold star. Finding this information via is certainly a possibility, at least at the federal level, but having it available in one easily downloadable place is certainly preferable. Our only real quibble — and it’s a minor one — is why Microsoft, known for its Excel spreadsheets, didn’t make it available in Excel. Hopefully, other companies will also consider making this information more widely available.