“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.” — Mitt Romney, June 6, in a conference call with the anti-union National Federation of Independent Business.
(NEW YORK) MintPress – The Republican challenger to President Barack Obama was addressing a group of self-described “small-business owners” when, after making a lengthy case that the president’s first term has been bad for business, he made the above comment.
“And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees,” he continued.
The call, which was posted on the NFIB’s website, suggests that the Romney campaign is, in fact, behind the recent wave of GOP-affiliated corporations’ attempts to influence employees’ votes.
As MintPress News reported earlier, David and Charles Koch, according to an investigation carried out by In These Times, recently sent out a mailing to some 50,000 employees with detailed information on how to vote in the November elections.
The Koch brothers have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to right-wing candidates and causes.
Included in the packet was a letter from Koch Industries president David Robertson, saying, “If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences.
“It is essential that we are all informed and educated voters. Our future depends on it,” he continued.
A flyer naming 14 candidates endorsed by the Koch brothers, all of them Republicans — with Mitt Romney at the top of the list — was also enclosed in the packet.
The Koch brothers are hardly the only corporate bigwigs trying to persuade their workers to vote Republican.
“It is important that in November you vote to improve your standard of living and that will be through smaller government and less government,” he wrote in a letter that also announced a bonus for the company’s 2,300 employees.
In addition, Lacks cautioned that Obamacare could raise the company’s health insurance costs, which he warned he would pass on to employees.
Also in August, the Murray Energy Company, the largest privately owned coal company in the country, forced coal miners at the Century Mine in Beallsville, Ohio, to give up a day’s worth of pay to show up at a rally with Romney.
Last but not least, David Siegel, founder and CEO of giant timeshare company Westgate Resorts, came under fire earlier this month for an e-mail to employees insisting that the president’s re-election would threaten their employment status.
The letter said that while they could vote for either candidate, if Obama wins they will likely lose their jobs.
“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone,” Siegel wrote.
“You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive,” he continued. “My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired and with no employees to worry about.”
The Ohio Democratic Party, for one, took the issue to the courts, requesting a criminal investigation of Murray Energy.
The alleged coercion of political donations from employees may have “involved extortion, money laundering, racketeering and other violations of Title 18 of the U.S. criminal code,” chairman Chris Redfern wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.
At the same time, the liberal policy group ProgressOhio.org filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Murray over the August Romney event because those same miners unwittingly appeared in a Romney campaign TV ad.
In the June call, however, Romney assured his audience that it was legal for them to provide their workers with guidelines on how to vote.
“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 and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well,” he said.
Technically, in fact, he may be right. The 2010 Citizens United ruling overturned previous Federal Election Commission laws that prohibited employers from political campaigning among employees.
In the post-Citizens United era, said University of Marquette Law Professor Paul Secunda, “There is not much political protection for at-will employees in the private sector workplace.”
“It is conceivable, under the current legal regime,” he continued, “that an employer like Koch could actually get away with forcing his employees, on pains of termination, to campaign for a given candidate or political party.”
It appears the Romney campaign is taking full advantage of that fact. “I particularly think that our young kids … need to understand that what the president is doing by borrowing a trillion dollars more each year than what we spend is running up a credit card that they’re going to have to pay off and that their future is very much in jeopardy by virtue of the policies that the president is putting in place,” he told his audience.
“So I need you to get out there and campaign.”