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Mr. Microsoft goes to Washington

Report shows software maker paid $160,000 to one consultant to lobby Congress last year--likely a drop in the bucket of the company's overall government affairs budget.

Update 1:50 p.m. PST: Added Microsoft's overall lobbying expense figures for the first half of 2007.

Here's a shocker: Microsoft lobbies Congress.

OK, so it's not. But it's interesting to keep tabs on how much the software maker is spending and who it's hired to do its bidding.

The Associated Press reported that Microsoft paid $160,000 last year to the firm Patton Boggs to lobby on "antitrust issues surrounding mergers and acquisitions in the technology sector." The bulk of that--$120,000--was spent in the second half of the year, the AP said, citing a disclosure form posted online by the Senate's records office.

Microsoft doesn't say how much it spends on its overall government affairs efforts, but I suspect that amount is just a drop in the bucket.

"We don't publicly address consultants that we might have on retainer," said Microsoft spokeswoman Ginny Terzano. "Like most companies with a base here in Washington D.C., we bring in outside consultants now and then on policy issues, including competitive issues."

Microsoft might need a few more of those consultants if Yahoo ever says yes to its marriage proposal.

Update: As I suspected, Microsoft spends a whole lot more than that on lobbying. For the first half of last year, Microsoft spent $4.78 million on lobbying activities, according to the report it filed with Congress. It's full-year 2007 report is not yet available.