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Press Release

    CSE President Paul Beckner's Letter to the State Attorney General Regarding the Microsoft Case

    06/21/2001

    Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth Office of the Attorney General Suite PL-01 The Capitol Tallahassee, Florida 32399

    Dear Attorney General Butterworth:

    The legal process can be a powerful force for justice and a healthy economy in America. As the lead law enforcement officer in Florida, you must be all too aware of the special impact your decisions have on the economy. For this reason I am compelled to draw to your attention troubling reports from the Associated Press and Financial Times with respect to antitrust and consumer protection law emerging from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) meeting in Burlington, Vermont this week.

    According to these news reports, a group of public relations professionals representing specific competitors in the high-tech industry is in Burlington to lobby you under the misleading name ProComp. Their efforts to regulate through litigation are anything but pro-competitive. They are pro-particular-companies.

    Private actors will seek to influence public policy in pursuit of measurable gain for themselves. Special interests have descended upon your meeting with the intent of bringing ruin to their competitors. In an attempt to pursue their narrow interests after traditional regulatory and legislative initiatives have failed, these groups have turned to litigation to achieve their goals. There is no justice in this abuse of the legal process.

    The economic marketplace has a special genius for sorting out winners and losers. It is called consumer choice. As Attorney General, you are a custodian of the rules that govern the economic marketplace. It is important, therefore, to be vigilant against efforts by those seeking to subvert the legal system for private gain.

    I urge you to repudiate attempts by players in a given marketplace - or their hired surrogates - to utilize the NAAG meeting, your time, and the resources of your staff to promote legal action against one or more of their competitors.

    At Citizens for a Sound Economy we fervently believe that the power to shape, change, and ultimately discipline the marketplace is in the hands of consumers when they are given the opportunity to choose in a marketplace free of unnecessary regulation. There is an important role for litigation in a free market economy. It is not, however, a preferred method for regulating an industry or a firm in the marketplace. Rather than a first choice, it should be weighed against less intrusive but equally effective methods for upholding the law.

    In antitrust law this precept is all the more important because the ramifications of a single lawsuit are widespread and oftentimes permanent. The history of antitrust enforcement is a story of government planning and industry-wide controls.

    It is my understanding - and the AP is reporting - that hired lobbyists from ProComp have descended upon your meeting - a meeting of peers and professionals - with the express goal of instigating more regulation through litigation in the high technology industry. I urge you to steer clear of their manipulations. The very last prescription we should make for a struggling technology sector is more government intervention.

    Citizens for a Sound Economy is a grassroots advocacy and education organization dedicated to economic freedom. For more than 15 years our analysts have examined antitrust policy. At CSE we recruit, educate, motivate and mobilize hundreds of thousands of volunteer activists to fight for less government intervention in the marketplace. On behalf of CSE members in Florida please turn away from naked self-interested lobbying at the NAAG meetings and allow the marketplace to operate free from unnecessary litigation brought only to hamper particular competitors in the marketplace.

    Respectfully,

    Paul Beckner President and CEO Citizens for a Sound Economy