Microsoft employees publicly criticized the company on Tuesday for claiming it supports the peaceful transition of power from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden — while it also quietly donates money to politicians who oppose that transition.
Microsoft president Brad Smith on Monday signed an open letter from 170 business leaders urging Congress to certify Joe Biden's electoral college win, which is due to take place on Wednesday.
"At Microsoft we believe a healthy business community depends on our Constitution, the rule of law, and the peaceful transition of power. Our democratic principles must come first," Smith tweeted.
Microsoft employee Jake Friedman replied to Smith's tweet, pointing out two donations made in May from Microsoft's lobbying vehicle (known as MSPAC) to the Republican Party of Texas and Senator Jim Jordan of Ohio, who told Fox News in December he wanted a "real debate" about the electoral college win.
—Jake Friedman (@spaceisfunn) January 5, 2021
Microsoft engineer Brandon Paddock also tweeted: "So let's get rid of MSPAC, or at least stop it contributing to people trying to undermine those democratic principles."
CNBC also identified that, this year, MSPAC has donated to campaigns supporting Republican Senators Steve Daines, Cynthia Lummis, and Roger Marshall, all of whom have said they will oppose Congress certifying the result.
Microsoft employees are able to send a small amount of their pay to MSPAC, and another employee called Mike O'Neill replied under Friedman's tweet saying he'd cancelled his contribution. In another tweet, O'Neill said he'd donated $5 from each paycheck for roughly 15 years.
Per CNBC, MSPAC has existed since 1988, and historically has donated to a range of candidates, both Republican and Democrat — a tactic used by many Big Tech companies.
In response to the criticism, a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC: "We weigh a number of factors in making political contribution decisions, and will consider this and other issues in making future contribution decisions."
Microsoft was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.