We talked the other day about some business leaders using heavy-handed election tactics, pressuring their employees to support Mitt Romney, even going so far as to suggest the workers’ jobs are on the line. What we didn’t know is what the Republican candidate has done to encourage these efforts.
For those who can’t listen to clips online, here’s a transcript what Romney said during his June 6 conference call with the far-right National Federation of Independent Business:
“I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, you pass those along to your employees. There’s nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision.”
We know, of course, that plenty of Romney allies have taken the advice to heart, including David Siegel, the CEO of a large timeshare company, who sent a lengthy written tirade to his workers, telling them President Obama’s re-election would “threaten your job.” There have been similar incidents involving Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions; Bob Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy; Richard Lacks, CEO of Lacks Enterprises; and of course, the Koch brothers.
As for whether Romney’s correct about the legality, this isn’t my area of expertise, but The Atlantic’s Adam Clark Estes wrote, “It’s not technically illegal for employers to tell their employees how to vote. That doesn’t mean that it’s ethical or understandable or even acceptable to connect people’s livelihoods with their political beliefs. There’s a fine line between an employer telling an employee, ‘Vote Romney!’ and a boss telling a subordinate, ‘Vote Romney, or else!’ At least, in the eyes of the inevitably subordinate employees there’s not.”