Microsoft Cuts Ties With Ralph Reed

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said Friday it has severed ties with Ralph Reed (search), a conservative Republican lobbyist who once headed the Christian Coalition and is now running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.

"It would not be appropriate to have a consultant on retainer that is seeking elective office at the same time," company spokeswoman Ginny Terzano said.

The move came a month after liberal activists urged Microsoft to quit using Reed as a consultant. They were upset that the software company had withdrawn its support for a gay rights bill in its home state of Washington. The bill died by a single vote in the state Senate last month.

The company has since said it will support such legislation in the future.

Century Strategies (search), a public relations and lobbying firm Reed founded in 1997, lobbied for Microsoft on international trade and competitive issues, Terzano said.

"Microsoft retains and lets consultants go throughout the course of the year based on the company's needs. And that was the case here," she said.

Century Strategies did not immediately return calls for comment.

Reed was executive director of the Christian Coalition (search) from 1989 to 1997. Last year, he was the Southeast regional chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign.