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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Listen to Mitt Romney Urge Business Owners to Tell Their Employees How to Vote

Posted by on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 3:48 PM

In These Times found a June teleconference between Mitt Romney and small business owners. At the 26 minute mark, Romney urges the small businessmen to tell their employees how to vote. Listen:

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. 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. [There's] 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.

In These Times suggests that this audio "raises the question of whether the Romney campaign is complicit in the corporate attempts to influence employees' votes that have been recently making headlines." If there is coordination between the Romney campaign and captains of industry to strong-arm voters into voting in their bosses' interests, this is one of the most despicable strategies I have seen any campaign deploy in my lifetime. As Romney says, it's not illegal, but it should be.


Comments (24) RSS

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Dougsf 1
Seeing no clear distinction between acting legally and acting morally seems to be a reoccurring theme with Romney. He may not feel that government creates jobs, but he sure looks to government to actualize his convictions.
Posted by Dougsf on October 17, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 2
What a scumbag.
Posted by keshmeshi on October 17, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Seriously, have you goofs never belonged to a union?

Telling people who share an interest how to vote is what you are doing every day. So employers should be restricted from informing their employees about what they think is in the best interest of their company?

How about a green energy company's CEO sending an email that says the President will be a better pick for the health of their company, their industry and the country?

Would that be despicable?
Posted by mt on October 17, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
@3 I think the objection is how close it comes to voter intimidation. Imagine a boss saying "gosh if that other guy gets elected I'll be laying folks off left and right!" Whereas if a worker wants to vote against the union's recommendation, there's not any implied consequence from the union for doing so. (Unless I'm wrong -- never been unionized so I don't know what the rules are)
Posted by Nitidiuscula on October 17, 2012 at 4:52 PM · Report this
Actually, it smacks of a culture that believes that bosses somehow own their employees, a sense that an employment agreement is not a contract between equals but an indenture. There is way too much of this legacy from less enlightened times still haunting our lives and it needs to stop.
Posted by Charlie Mas on October 17, 2012 at 4:55 PM · Report this
#5 do unions own their members? how about church groups? What about the coop that tells its member to vote against franken food?

Business owners have as much stake as any of the above.
They can't make there employees vote any more than the union can.

And #5 what if it is true that if Romney wins your company will fold - doesn't the employer have a right to let the employees know?

Posted by mt on October 17, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this

Somewhere between what Romney said and what Paul Constant described it went from "small businessmen" to "corporate attempts" and "captains of industry".

Let us remember who is backing Obama. It ain't the grocery store down the street.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 17, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
long-time reader 8
@6, actually, churches aren't allowed to tell their congregation how to vote. If they do, they (theoretically) lose their tax-exempt status.
Posted by long-time reader on October 17, 2012 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Mitt didn't go far enough. He should have urged business owners to tell their employees that they will all be polygraphed and interrogated under sodium amytol after the election and that anyone who doesn't vote a solid Republican ticket will be fired without notice, severance, or benefits. After all, this is America, the bastion of paternalistic neofeudalism that time forgot. The Constitution thoughtfully bars the government from coercing citizens to vote a certain way, but those limits don't apply to private employers.

And employees should all convert to Mormonism, too. If they don't, Mitt will do it for them.

That is all.
Posted by PCM on October 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this

I think you've got all those backwards: Members own their union, congregations own their church, & members own their co-op. The difference here being of course that some bosses think they OWN their employees, and that therefore they have a right threaten, coerce and intimidate them into voting a certain way.

You're right that ultimately business owners can't really force an employee to vote against their conscience. But by the same token, when a douche nozzle like David Siegel publicly threatens to fire his employees en masse if Obama is re-elected, one can easily imagine it might sway at least a few of them to do vote for Romney instead.
Posted by COMTE on October 17, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
So #10 what about the green company boss who fears that old Mittens will kill his business and force him to let his workers go. Do you really think that means he thinks he owns his employees?
Posted by mt on October 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 12
@4 - You don't have to imagine a boss saying voting for Obama means layoffs. It's already happened.
Posted by Free Lunch on October 17, 2012 at 6:26 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 13
@11 - Site a green company that has sent a letter to all of its employees stating that voting for Romney means losing their jobs. I can site more than one Republican-owned company that has done exactly that with Obama.
Posted by Free Lunch on October 17, 2012 at 6:29 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 14
God, I wish I could spell...
Posted by Free Lunch on October 17, 2012 at 6:34 PM · Report this
watchout5 15
The CEO of my company sent out a letter of support to a candidate and the owner quiped back to ignore the message and they didn't mean it. We had a good laugh. I don't think anyone in the office voted for the candidate and they lost anyway, a passive email nothing more. To go further, to encourage in some sort of "this will help keep your job, you know" sort of way is ludicrous. If it's not illegal, it should be made legal for employees to opt out of political speech or something. I get that they have free speech and all, but if this is going to be a thing why not enter them into a contract where you get unemployment if they cross the line? Everyone has an incentive to make more money for the business, rather than waste time on this bullshit.
Posted by watchout5 on October 17, 2012 at 8:24 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 16
@3: Fifteen-year union member here, and I can not recall a time when my union leadership ever, ever voiced an opinion on how we regular members should vote.

I dunno what kinda union you belonged to (if you ever did), But your point sounds pretty sketchy.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on October 17, 2012 at 8:46 PM · Report this
Those comparing this to union endorsements are being willfully dishonest. Unions don't say "We'll fire you if X loses", whereas that's pretty close to what the Koch brothers said to their employees recently.

Business owners are, of course, entitled to publicly say "I'm voting for X and I think he/she will be best for my business." I do have to wonder how many people are dumb enough to believe that their boss's interests are the same as their own. (I guess we can answer that more precisely by looking at the number of registered Republicans.)
Posted by Morosoph on October 17, 2012 at 9:15 PM · Report this
Sometimes it is just easier to cut and paste.

"The word plutocracy is almost always used as a pejorative to describe or warn against an undesirable condition,[2][3] and throughout history political thinkers such as Winston Churchill, 19th-century French sociologist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville and 19th-century Spanish monarchist Juan Donoso Cort├ęs have condemned those they characterize as plutocrats for ignoring their social responsibilities to the poor, using their power to serve their own purposes and thereby increasing poverty and nurturing class conflict, and corrupting their societies with greed and hedonism.[4][5]

Historically and by the nature of their existence, wealthy individuals and organizations can exert influence over the political arena. In the modern era, democratic republics around the world permit fundraising for politicians, who frequently rely on such income for advertising their candidacy to the voting public.

Whether through individuals, corporations or advocacy groups, such donations are often believed to engender a cronyist or patronage system via which major contributors are rewarded on a more or less quid pro quo basis. In fact, while campaign donations need not directly affect the legislative decisions of elected representatives, the natural expectation of donors is that their needs will be served by the person they donated to. If not, it is in their self-interest to fund a different candidate or political organization."
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on October 17, 2012 at 10:44 PM · Report this
If owners can express their political opinions in the workplace, so should their employees.
Posted by anon1256 on October 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM · Report this
#17 that is just silly. Whatever their owners political stripe, unless a business is a hobby, the employees are the engine that runs the bus. An employer who "fires everyone if X loses" just killed his businesses. I suggest all workers should avoid working for suicidal employers.

#16 must be in the contemplative nuns union, what else is a union endorsement if not telling the union members which way the union thinks they should vote.

I have no problem with Paul raging against Romney supporters but it borders on mendacity to decry an employers expressing his belief about how a candidate or initiative effects his business on some moral ground when you are really only objecting to those who support a particular candidate.

#13 you have made my point in a round about way. It is only who is support that you are concerned with.
Posted by mt on October 18, 2012 at 6:47 AM · Report this
I have been in a union and they never suggested who to vote for. I understand that some unions do endorse candidates but unions don't have the power to fire you. Neither do churches or your grocery store or any of the other ridiculous comparisons you made. If I vote against my church, union or grocery store's interests I do not risk losing my livelihood.

On the other hand if my employer says, as some employers have said, "if you vote for X a bunch of you are going to lose your jobs" that's coercion and if it's not illegal it should be. That's threatening employees with losing their jobs for voting wrong and possibly worse it's threatening them with losing their jobs if they don't work hard enough to get others to vote for the employers preferred candidate.

To your other question. If a green energy company owner tells his employees that if they don't vote for the right candidate and get enough others to vote for the right candidate they're all going to lose their jobs that would be exactly as bad and should be illegal.
Posted by Root on October 18, 2012 at 7:51 AM · Report this
Actually, to your last point in your last post to 13 you're completely missing his point. We're saying that it should be illegal for employers to coerce their employees to vote a given way. You suggested we would think it was OK if it were a green energy company doing it. We say it would be inappropriate for ANY employer to do it. He just pointed out that there have been several examples of Republican owned business owners doing it but no examples of green energy or other Democrat owned businesses doing it.

In other words, as usual, it's the fucking Republicans who are engaging in voter fraud, voter intimidation and just generally immoral behavior.
Posted by Root on October 18, 2012 at 8:04 AM · Report this
I doubt it'll work and I expect it'll backfire. A boss's attempts to influence his employees' votes will only work if the employees like their boss - and the kind of boss whose employees actually like him isn't likely to be the kind who engages in this sort of strategy. Disliked and resented bosses telling their employees how to vote won't just fail, it'll probably backfire. The voting booth is private, after all.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on October 18, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
@10 "congregations own their church"

Not in many cases. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church owns even the name "The Church" and if you don't like it you can go to hell, which they also own, in the sense that they decide if you go there or not.

@19 "If owners can express their political opinions in the workplace, so should their employees."

Perhaps this is because I live in an "At Will" employment state, but this is ridiculous on its face.
Posted by In Washington The Can Fire You For "No Reason" At All on October 19, 2012 at 10:26 AM · Report this

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