Would You Tell Your Employees Who to Vote For?

Although controversial, many small-business owners are making suggestions to their employees of who to cast their votes for.
October 18, 2012

In the 2010 Citizens United ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court not only turned over limits on contributions—it also nullified Federal Election Commission rules that kept employers from pushing their political opinions on employees. It appears to be perfectly legal, if controversial, to tell your employees who to vote for, though you still can’t threaten them for supporting a candidate you don’t.

David Siegel, the founder and CEO of timeshare company Westgate resorts (and co-star of the documentary Queen of Versailles), recently sent an e-mail telling his employees that the reelection of Obama would “threaten your job”—and that if the President had another four years to levy the taxes he planned, Siegel would “have no choice but to reduce the size of the company.” Richard Lacks, CEO of Michigan-based car parts manufacturer Lacks Enterprises, also pushed his 2,300 employees to vote Romney in November, telling them that Obamacare could raise the company’s health insurance costs—and that those additional costs would be passed on to employees. And Koch Industries sent out a packet to its 45,000 employees, telling them which candidates the company endorsed. Romney was at the top of the list. 

Mitt Romney wants small-business owners to follow their lead.

"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," the Republican candidate told a group of small-business owners on a conference call organized by the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Businesses. The call was first published Wednesday by liberal magazine In These Times.

"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 said later in the call, after arguing Obama was anti-business. "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." (Click here for audio of the call—the words written above are at about the 26-minute mark.)

Would you (or have you) told your employees who to vote for? 

Photo: Getty Images