Microsoft pivots on its Political Action Committee donations after recent online controversy

Kareem Anderson

Two weeks after suspending contributions from its Political Action Committee to re-evaluate electoral donations in the wake of January 6, 2021, Capitol riots, Microsoft has returned with a more cogent plan for what it does with its employee’s money when it comes to politics.

Microsoft’s communications executive Frank Shaw used Twitter earlier today to announce the company’s strategy for engaging with political donations going forward. In a post that was pulled from communications between Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, and the company’s PAC community, Microsoft outlines specific changes to its PAC policies that include a third option for donations that will bypass elected officials on either side of the two-party system in the US, but instead will now go to a new Democracy Forward Initiative as well as an official renaming of the PAC adding more transparency about its contributors.

To avoid mincing words or misrepresentation of the changes, we’ll post Microsoft’s details in full.

  • 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 the 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).

After the PR fiasco a few weeks ago that involved Microsoft president Brad Smith candidly contradicting the company’s recent public statements about campaign contributions following the Capital riots, today’s news may go a long way in assuaging fears or trepidation employees’, investors and fans had in company’s financial involvement in politics.

Over the past two weeks, Microsoft says it held six listening sessions to accommodate the more than 3,000 employees, stakeholders, and family members who make up its new PAC (MSVPAC) with the intention of offering more representation when it comes to political contributions.

We’ll continue to update as the latest news arrives.