Once again, a leaked recording of Mitt Romney is threatening to cause a major headache for his campaign.
In These Times has uncovered an audio recording of a conference call that Romney did with the National Federation of Independent Business on June 6th, in which Romney urges employers to tell their employees how to vote on Election Day.
The controversial comments begin at the 26:00 mark:
“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,” Romney said. “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.”
The Republican presidential nominee went on to stress that that 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 and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.”
As Mike Elk of In These Times explains, the tactic’s legality is a recent development — it was illegal for employers to exert political pressure on employees until the Citizens United decision overturned the Federal Election Commission laws barring it.
Even if pressuring one’s employees to vote Republican is technically legal, it plays into Romney’s problematic image as America’s cold-hearted boss. The implicit threat in telling your employee that it is in the best interest of their job to vote for a given candidate is quite clear.
As ThinkProgress points out, several companies appear to have followed Romney’s advice: “A CEO of a Florida resort company threatened to fire his employees if Obama won. The CEO of a timeshare company did the same. And the famous right-wing Koch brothers warned of “consequences” of not voting for Romney.” Additionally, in August the Century Mine in Beallsville, Ohio forced its coal miners to attend a “mandatory” Romney rally (and lose a day’s pay for their trouble.)