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Microsoft paying Religious Right leader Ralph Reed $20,000 a month retainer

| Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK has learned that Microsoft is currently paying a $20,000 a month retainer to former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed's consulting firm Century Strategies. Which now begs the question of whether Reed was in any way involved with Microsoft's recent decision to abandon its decades long support for gay civil rights in order to curry favor with anti-gay bigots of the radical right.

You can find copies of the invoices here:
- Six months of payments to Ralph Reed's Century Strategies.
- Detailed April invoice for $20,000 to Century Strategies.

Interestingly, Microsoft had Reed on retainer during the presidential election of 2000 to apparently help lobby then-candidate Bush on their anti-trust suit (he was actually first hired in the fall of 1998). The contract was terminated after Reed was criticized for a conflict of interest - Reed was working on Bush's campaign. The question arises when Microsoft and Reed revived their work relationship (most observers I've spoken to thought the contract ended five years ago), and what exactly Reed is working on now that the anti-trust issue is over.

Now, just think a minute. Microsoft finds itself under criticism from the local evangelical leader, religious right shareholders, bigoted employees and who knows who else. They don't know what to do. Who do they turn to? Well, if I'm in a religious right pickle, I'd turn to my $20,000 a month retainered religious right consultant, the former leader of the religious right, Ralph Reed.

And which side do we think the former head of the religious right would favor were he advising Microsoft what do when trapped between the Scylla and Charybdis of the gays vs. the religious right?

A. Stick to your guns and defend the gays? or
B. Find a way to stiff the gays and move more in line with the religious right?
Well, shiver my timbers, Microsoft ended up going with option B.

Now a few questions for Microsoft:
1. When did Microsoft hire Ralph Reed and Century Strategies again?

2. Did Microsoft have Reed/Century on retainer at any time during the 2004 election, when Reed was in charge of Bush's re-election campaign in the southeast? And if so, doesn't the same conflict again come to a head, paying $20,000 a month to a senior official in the Bush campaign?

In fact, the earliest invoice I have starts on 11/01/04, that's BEFORE the election. So Microsoft had Reed, a senior Bush campaign official, on the payroll while he was working on the campaign. Why?

3. Why did Microsoft hire Ralph Reed/Century again? What issues is the former head of the Christian Coalition providing guidance on?

4. Did Microsoft ever confer with Ralph Reed about social issues, such as, but not limited to, the current decision to abandon support for the Washington state gay rights bill?

5. Will Microsoft now abandon its contract with Ralph Reed since it has determined it no longer wishes to be involved in "social issues"? After all, social issues (like gambling) are Ralph Reed's specialty - what possible interest could Microsoft have in the former head of the religious right that don't involve his knowledge of, well, the religious right?

6. As asked the FIRST time Microsoft hired Reed six years ago:
"But Reed is known principally not for tax cuts but for opposition to abortion, gay rights and other tenets of the Christian conservative agenda. So what gives? What is a cosmopolitan outfit like Microsoft doing hooking up with Pat Robertson's former right-hand man?"
What, indeed.

PS I know for a fact this is for real, Ralph Reed and his firm are currently on retainer with Microsoft.

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