|Evil Bill Gates (11/9/97)|
I've never been a big fan of Texas Attorney General Dan Morales. I'm not saying he doesn't do a good job, I'm just not one to go jump on his bandwagon.
I guess it all started over four years ago when I, along with about 50 other law enforcement personnel, were invited to "meet" with him in Cooke County before one of his campaign speeches to the public at large. Now, mind you, I wouldn't walk across the street to hear a campaign speech from anybody, and I'm surely not going to drive to Gainesville to here one from the AG. But a private meeting, I thought, involving law enforcement might be insightful. So along with our Sheriff, I made the journey one cold weekday morning in 1993 to hear Morales.
I'm still mad.
Morales did in fact make the meeting but it only lasted about 15 minutes. During that time, I heard nothing that was helpful from a law enforcement standpoint. Cut to its basics, it was nothing more than a campaign speech. Quite frankly, I have no idea why the public wasn't invited into the room. Certainly nothing confidential was said. It was a waste of time and I still regret making the trip.
If you want to invite me to a campaign speech - fine. But don't try transforming a political speech into something it's not by giving it behind closed doors to law enforcement people.
Maybe I shouldn't hold a grudge.
In any event, low and behold I see Morales name again in headlines the other day when he asked a court to enjoin bigger than life Microsoft. At the center of the lawsuit, apparently, are nondisclosure agreements and licensing contracts that Microsoft allegedly forces its customers to sign. The agreements require customers to notify Microsoft before providing information to investigators. Morales is investigating the computer giant for possible antitrust activities but doesn't like the fact that the contracts allow Microsoft to know that the government is after his company.
What is a bit troubling is the fact that Morales issued a press release about his actions. Moreover, it referred to Microsoft as one of the "world's wealthiest corporations". (On his official web site, he had big scrolling text which read: "Morales asks court to prohibit Microsoft from interfering with state investigation"). First, were his actions so important that they justified a press release? Secondly, what difference does it make that Microsoft is wealthy? Does that make the corporation evil? Ask big Texas employers Dell Computer and Intel if Microsoft is a bad thing.
In any event, if he wanted the press release to receive the attention of the press, it certainly worked. On Saturday, November 8, 1997, it seemed that every major daily had run with the story. The Dallas Morning News featured it front and center on its web site.
If Microsoft has done something wrong, they should be prosecuted accordingly. But since the U.S. Justice Department and AG Janet Reno are already engaged in that action, I would suspect they can handle it. Further, I hope it is only a coincidence that Reno's actions, which were a major national news story, didn't provide our state AG with an incentive to throw Microsoft's name around in a press release for similar coverage. It is, after all, campaign season with two candidates having already announced that they want Morales' job in 1998. If Morales wanted some "free press", he certainly got it.
Or maybe I'm still mad about driving to Gainesville four years ago.
Barry Green is the District Attorney for the 271st Judicial District.