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California Politician Attacks Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Kings Purchase

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has implied Microsoft's California business contracts could be in jeopardy if the NBA deal goes through.

News of the pending sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen's Seattle investment group is proving to be a tough pill for some California politicians to swallow.

In a letter sent Tuesday to California Department of General Services director Fred Klass, California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg calls out Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for his role in Hansen's group and asks for more information on the Redmond-based company's contracts within California.

I would appreciate your help—as the director of the department in charge of most state procurement—in obtaining some information that in light of these reports is certainly relevant to California taxpayers, particularly those in the Sacramento region.
Specifically:

- How many technology contracts and at what total cost to state taxpayers does Microsoft Corporation currently have with the State of California?

-In total dollars, how much has the State of California paid Microsoft Corporation for its products and services over the last 10 years?

- Can you send my office terms of contracts and representations made by Microsoft Corporation regarding their contracts with the State?

-To your knowledge, does any other state in the United States pay more annually to Microsoft Corporation for products and services than the State of California?

- What is Microsoft Corporation's record of performance with the State of California?

As a state legislator, I am well aware that I have no direct role in the day-to-day management of the State's technology procurement processes, but I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region's leading private assets. 

(Click here to read the entire letter on USA Today.)

Steinberg, a former Sacramento City Council member, isn't the only politician trying to keep the Kings in California. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is forming a local ownership team to present a counter-offer for the Kings when the NBA reviews the sale this spring.

Do you think Steinberg is out of line to target Ballmer and Microsoft? Tell us in the comments section.

Jimmy Redmon January 22, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Jive political posturing by another ineffective dork in Sacramento!
Bob Martinek January 22, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Right on! Don't answer him and see what he does....nothing, I'll bet. He can't.
Pauline January 22, 2013 at 08:58 PM
"...but I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region's leading private assets." That part right there shows what an idiot this guy is. While I feel sorry for the people of Sacramento (we all know how they feel, right?), MICROSOFT is not trying to acquire and remove one of his region's leading private assets! What a tool.
Brent Champaco January 22, 2013 at 09:04 PM
It's interesting, because no one up here wanted to boycott Apple products when the Maloofs, Jerry Buss and other California-based team owners voted to relocate the Sonics five years ago, jumping from the 12th-largest market to the 48th-largest. (I know, it makes all the business sense in the world) Steinberg is trying to lump Ballmer's CEO side with his private investor side. Interesting ...
Trent Latta January 22, 2013 at 09:08 PM
I knew Darrell Steinberg when I practiced law in San Francisco; Darrell and I worked for the same law firm. He is a devout public official and I would not underestimate the impact of his efforts. Trent
Gail January 23, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Trent and Darrel - the lowest common denominator. I love it.
Tyler Pease January 23, 2013 at 01:43 AM
I have to admit that I have wanted to boycott Starbucks... but I just can't! :)
scottb January 24, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Yep- but I wish he could keep the team in California so we do not have to buy another stadium. And for everyone who says we won’t pay for a new stadium because they promised we would not... how did that work out when we were told the same thing about the football stadium and the baseball stadium. Fool me once... Many people do not care about the Sonics and do not want to pay for them.
Venice Buhain January 24, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Brent, I have to admit that I know nothing about NBA owners, so I was wondering what the Maloof family and Jerry Buss have to do with Apple? As far as lumping together Ballmer's CEO side and private investment side, people around here did the same thing with Starbucks and Howard Schultz, and they seemed to have no trouble making that connection.
Brent Champaco January 24, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Venice, My point is Steve Ballmer is investing in this team as a private investor, not on behalf of Microsoft. Trying to lump the two facets of his life together, as this politician is doing, is in my opinion, akin to lumping everything from California (I used Apple as an example) with the actions of the owners down there. It doesn't make sense, but it's exactly what Steinberg is trying to do. The only thing that prompted his questioning about the contracts was Ballmer's tie to the potential Kings deal. In either case, it's a far reach.
Brent Champaco January 24, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Tyler - You can still drink Starbucks, but order a tall instead of a grande and try not to enjoy it as much. That will stick it to 'em :)

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