The Corporate Mad Dogs Of Citizens UnitedOctober 31st, 2012 12:00 am Jim Hightower
As feared, our people’s democratic authority has been dogged nearly to death by the hounds of money in this election go ’round, thanks to the Supreme Court’s reckless decree in the now-infamous Citizens United case.
That rank political power play by five black-robed judicial partisans unleashed the Big Dogs of corporate money to bite democracy right in the butt this year, poisoning our elections with the venom of unlimited special-interest cash. But there’s also been another, little-reported consequence of the malevolent Citizens United decision: It has unleashed mad-dog corporate bosses to tell employees how to vote.
Prior to that 2010 Court ruling, top executives were barred by federal law from using corporate funds to instruct, induce, intimidate or otherwise push workers to support particular candidates. No more, thanks to the five Supremes. Having been given a legal pass, bosses have openly and aggressively conscripted employees to be political troopers for corporate-backed candidates.
For example, CEO David Siegel of Westgate Resorts, a major peddler of timeshare schemes, warned his 7,000-strong workforce against voting for Obama. To do so, he wrote in a letter to each of them, would “threaten your job.” Obama, Siegel declared, planned to raise taxes on multi-millionaires like him, which would give him “no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”
Likewise, Dave Robertson, president of the Koch brothers’ industrial empire, notified 30,000 workers that they would suffer assorted “ills” if they helped re-elect Obama. In case that message was too subtle, Robertson helpfully included a slate-card of Koch-approved candidates for them to take into the polling booth.
Of course, corporate chieftains say they’re not making threats — just suggestions. As Boss Siegel disingenuously put it: “There’s no way I can pressure anybody. I’m not in the voting booth with them.”
But, of course, he can see (or be told by watchful managers) if any employee dares to sport an Obama campaign button, bumpersticker or lawn sign. And he can find out if any rebellious worker has gone to a Democratic Party event, volunteered in the wrong campaign or made a donation to Obama (now there’s a chilling irony — under Citizens United, Siegel can secretly shovel a million bucks or more straight out of the corporate treasury into an anti-Obama campaign group, but a regular person’s $200 donation has to be disclosed for all to see, including the boss).