We've talked a bit lately about business leaders using heavy-handed election tactics, pressuring their employees to support Mitt Romney, apparently at the candidate's behest. Several Republican CEOs have taken Romney's request to heart, and have abandoned subtlety when giving their workers voting instructions.
Among the most notable examples is Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions, who told his employees via email, "If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don't want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come." As "Up with Chris Hayes" reported over the weekend, that's not all Arthur Allen said.
As it turns out, the ASG Software Solutions chief "has repeatedly solicited his more than 1,300 employees not only to support Mitt Romney, but to donate up to the maximum $2,500 to Romney's presidential campaign."
What strikes me as interesting about this is the degree to which a company can keep tabs on its workers.
A CEO can send emails every day, pleading with them to vote one way or another in a given election, but when push comes to shove, an individual American walks into the voting booth and casts a secret ballot. It's public information as to whether that person voted, but how he or she voted is entirely private.
If a worker runs into the boss at the water cooler, and the employer says, "So, did you vote the way I told you to?" the employee can say, "Absolutely, boss!" No one ever will know whether the assurance is true or not.
But urging employees to contribute the legal maximum is something else altogether.
When someone donates $2,500 to a presidential candidate, that's reported to the FEC. In other words, when the worker runs into the boss at the water cooler, and the employer says, "So, did you donate the way I told you to?" the employee can't lie.
To be sure, Arthur Allen never used his messages to threaten workers who didn't donate, and never said those who choose not to contribute will face negative consequences, but the intimidation is nevertheless obvious. The CEO who can raise or lower your salary, promote or demote, hire or fire, has urged his employees to give money to a candidate -- and he'll know which workers followed his "advice" or which didn't.