Major U.S. Corporations telling their employees who to vote for in U.S. Election
US corporate executives direct their employees how to vote
Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:31PM GMT
Several major US companies have sent letters and information packets to their employees suggesting and even explicitly recommending who they should vote for in the upcoming elections in November.
“In these letters, the executives complain about the costs of overregulation, the health care overhaul and possible tax increases. Some letters warn that if President Obama is re-elected, the company could be harmed, potentially jeopardizing jobs,” The New York Times reports in a Saturday article.
According to the report, until 2010, federal law prohibited companies from using corporate funds to endorse or campaign for presidential, congressional or local political candidates and urging employees to cast their ballots for specific politicians.
However, in a January 2010 decision, the US Supreme Court removed such restrictions on corporations, leading a number of them to tell their employees how to vote.
In one instant, says the report, David Siegel, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, wrote to his 7,000 employees, telling them that if Obama wins the presidential race, the prospect of higher taxes may damage the company’s future.
“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Siegel wrote, as quoted in the report. “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.”
Siegel explained in an interview, “I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’ ”
Another corporate executive, Dave Robertson, the president of Koch Industries, sent an “information packet” and letter this month “to more than 30,000 employees of a subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, a paper and pulp company.” Censuring government subsidies for “a few favored cronies” as well as “unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses,” the letter added, “Many of our more than 50,000 US employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.”
Furthermore, says the daily, Richard Lacks, chief executive of Michigan-based Lacks Enterprises, an auto parts company, wrote to his 2,300 employees this month “warning that an Obama victory would mean higher health care costs and higher taxes that would eat into their paychecks.”
“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.
Moreover, Scott D. Farmer, chief executive of Cintas, a uniform supply company, also sent a letter to his company’s 30,000 employees on October 19, denouncing the Obama-sponsored Affordable Care Act and saying it “amounts to the single largest tax on Americans and business in history.” He warned his workforce that “the overregulation” of business “is suffocating many companies.”
The daily further points out that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has personally urged business owners to appeal to their employees. In a June conference call sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business, he said, “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.”
However, the report notes, many “liberal legal experts” fear that such suggestive communication by business executives may discourage employees from exercising their rights to free speech.
“The concern here is there is an unavoidable power disparity between management and employees,” said Adam Skaggs, senior counsel at the liberal Brennan Center for Justice. “Put yourself in the shoes of an employee at any of those companies. Are you going to be comfortable putting an Obama bumper sticker on your car and driving into the company parking lot? If you’re in a small community with a big employer, will you feel uncomfortable about putting up a yard sign for a candidate your boss doesn’t favor?”