Politics comes first for Oracle

Software giant Oracle Corp. has pulled out of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) partly because the trade group’s president may consider challenging a Republican U.S. senator in the 2006 election.

Oracle chose not to renew its ITAA membership when it came due at the end of the year for several reasons, one being that ITAA President Harris Miller is reportedly considering a challenge to Virginia Senator George Allen, said Robert Hoffman, vice president of congressional and legislative affairs at Oracle. Allen’s been active in technology issues since he was elected to the Senate in 2000.

“It concerned many of us at Oracle that Harris would consider challenging Senator Allen, considering the great things he’s done,” Hoffman said. “We don’t think tech issues are partisan issues at all. We as an industry should support our friends and stand by them.”

Allen, a former governor of Virginia, was a vocal co-sponsor in 2005 of an antispyware bill, along with a bill to extend a moratorium on taxes unique to the Internet. Many political observers mention Allen as a potential candidate for U.S. president in 2008.

Miller, long involved in the Democratic Party in northern Virginia, hasn’t confirmed that he’s considering a run for the Senate, but news reports in mid-December said he was looking into the possibility. An ITAA spokesman didn’t have an immediate response to Oracle’s decision.

In addition to Miller’s potential candidacy, other factors contributed to Oracle’s decision to leave ITAA, Hoffman said. Oracle belongs to several other technology trade groups, including TechNet and the Information Technology Industry Council, and the company has wanted some consolidation of the dozens of tech trade groups operating in Washington, D.C., Hoffman said. The large number of IT trade groups can be confusing to members of Congress, he said.

“We should as an industry … look at ways we can better work together,” Hoffman added. “There is an enormous amount of overlap in the work [IT trade groups] do.”

Miller joined ITAA, one of the largest IT trade groups, in 1995. In addition to his position at ITAA, he’s also president of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, a group representing 38 high-tech trade groups from around the world.

Before joining ITAA, he operated his own government relations firm, Harris Miller & Associates, with clients in the IT industry, agriculture and banking. He’s a former legislative director to former Senator John Durkin, a New Hampshire Democratic, and served as deputy director of congressional relations at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

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