Today, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that continued pursuit of a radical breakup plan for Microsoft would be moved off the table by the next North Carolina attorney general. The front-page story explains that “both candidates for state attorney general in North Carolina say they want to reassess the state’s involvement in the case,” reports David Rice.
After joining the Justice Department in recommending a far-reaching and radical proposal to break up Microsoft, North Carolina Attorney General Mike Easley was inundated with hundreds of letters in opposition to the government’s case against the software company from members of North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy. Easley, who is a candidate for governor of North Carolina, realized the case against Microsoft was a losing issue with voters, and in June told The Charlotte Observer that he wasn’t convinced “a massive [Microsoft] breakup is necessary.”
However, Attorney General Easley’s position remains inconsistent with his comments to the Observer. Now, both candidates vying to succeed him as chief law enforcement officer are ready to reevaluate the lawsuit with a skeptical eye toward continued participation.
Dan Boyce and Roy Cooper—the Republican and Democratic candidates, respectively—have received hundreds of letters, phone calls and visits from CSE activists. In a letter to one CSE activist, Boyce states: “As attorney general, if I discover that continued participation in such a lawsuit would bring no benefit to North Carolina consumers, I would end North Carolina’s participation in the lawsuit and refocus precious taxpayer dollars to matters that do benefit North Carolina citizens.”
Likewise, Cooper stated in a letter to CSE that he “will support a new approach to consumer protection.”
“I oppose legislation through litigation—destroying industries because they can’t get it done by legislation,” Boyce told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I don’t see why we should spend taxpayers’ dollars piggy-backing on something that’s going to be resolved at the federal level.”
Citizens for a Sound Economy adamantly maintains that a structural breakup of Microsoft would be disastrous, and CSE’s activists have proven effective in the battle against government regulation of the software market.
“The last thing that consumers need is a federal judge, advised by government lawyers and Microsoft’s competitors, to overhaul the software marketplace,” said CSE Director of Regulatory Policy Erick Gustafson. “The case against Microsoft not only harms consumers, but it sends a bad message to innovators and entrepreneurs.”