Michael Bromwich, the court-appointed antitrust monitor who infamously handed Apple an “unprecedented” legal bill of $138,432 for his first two weeks’ work, is back — and his latest eyebrow-raising offence is charging Apple to “review relevant media articles.”
What does that mean, you might ask? In layman’s terms it refers to the fact that he’s billing Apple for reading the newspaper.
Of course, Bromwich — whose fees for Apple now approach $3 million — wouldn’t quite phrase it like that. When Apple asked exactly why it was being billed for such a petty activity, Bromwich reportedly responded, “We do not charge the time for reading the newspaper except when the WSJ editorials focus specifically on our work.”
The point in all of this isn’t that Apple can’t afford to shell out the money for a court-appointed monitor (yesterday’s record-shattering earning report suggests otherwise!), but rather that this is just the latest in what has looked like a pretty dubious situation from the get-go.
Apple was initially ordered to pay Bromwich to oversee its activities following charges of e-book price fixing in 2013. However, right from the start the relationship was strained — with Bromwich apparently attempting to access top Apple executives with nothing to do with e-books, while also handing in massive invoices.
On top of this were reports that Bromwich allegedly enjoys a friendship with Judge Denis Cote, and the fact that, unlike almost every other public servant, he’s paid by the hour instead of working to a fixed budget — thereby adding incentive for the job to continue running on as long as possible.
No doubt Apple is less than happy with the arrangement, but so far all official attempts at severing ties with Bromwich have proved unsuccessful. Time to try again, Tim Cook?