October 26, 2012
Imagine getting a letter from the boss, telling you how to vote.
Until 2010, federal law barred companies from using corporate money to endorse and campaign for political candidates — and that included urging employees to support specific politicians.
But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall.
In these letters, the executives complain about the costs of overregulation, the health care overhaul and possible tax increases.
David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt 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. 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.”In an interview, Mr. Siegel said it would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’ ”
Dave Robertson, the president of Koch Industries, sent a letter this month to more than 30,000 employees of a subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific. “Many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.” The Georgia-Pacific letter included a flier listing several candidates endorsed by the Koch brothers, beginning with Mitt Romney.
Other companies whose top executives have sent out anti-Obama letters include Rite-Hite, in Milwaukee, and ASG Software Solutions, based in Naples, Fla.
Mr. Romney has himself urged business owners to appeal to their employees. In a conference call in June organized 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.”