Romney urged business owners to tell employees how to vote

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In a June 6, 2012 conference call, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney urged employers to tell their employees how they should vote in the upcoming election, calling it “nothing illegal,” according to In These Times.

This report comes about a week after the multi-millionaire founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, David Siegel, sent out a controversial e-mail to 7,000 of his employees threatening layoffs if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

And just a few days ago, Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG, also warned his employees via e-mail that a second term could affect their jobs.

It’s not clear whether or not the Romney campaign is actively involved in these attempts to influence employees’ votes, but during the conference call, posted on the National Federation of Independent Business website, Romney encourages business owners to share their opinion on the election with their employees.

“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,” he said. “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.”

“Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is the best for the business,” Romney continued. “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.”

As it turns out, it’s true that the behavior Romney is encouraging isn’t illegal. The Citizens United ruling in 2010 overturned the Federal Election Commission’s laws against employers politically campaigning among their employees. But despite its legality, the practice tends to be met with controversy, especially in the case of CEOs’ recent threats.

In his letter, Siegel wrote: “If any new taxies are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of the 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.”

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