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Stephen Colbert Explains CEO Voter Intimidation For You

Submitted by on October 24, 2012 – 11:30 amOne Comment

The news has been flooded in the past few weeks by headlines about CEOs threatening their employee’s jobs if Barack Obama wins the election next month. Some have gone so far as to directly solicit donations for Mitt Romney. While the audacity and misinformation of these millionaires and billionaires is stunning, I and many Americans were also left wondering- how is this possibly legal? Isn’t threatening your employees to vote a certain way clearly voter intimidation or workplace harassment? Leave it to Stephen Colbert to explain how partisan Republican appointees made these actions perfectly legal (sort of).

Billionaire David Siegel, whose out-of-control spending is documented in the recent hit documentary Queen of Versailles, started off the trend by emailing thousands of his employees and telling them they would lose their jobs if Obama wins in November. Days later, MSNBC reported that software CEO Arthur Allen emailed thousands of his own employees, saying that an Obama victory would “impact [their] future jobs,” forcing the company to lose its “independence.” (It was later revealed Allen had earlier implored his employees to donate the maximum amount to the Romney campaign.)

The billionaire Koch brothers also sent a mailer to thousands of employees, endorsing conservative candidates and saying employees would “suffer the consequences” should liberals triumph.

At least two of these CEOs basically said, “Vote for Romney, or you’re fired.” On Monday’s episode of The Colbert Report, everyone’s favorite late night pundit explained how this is not, in fact, illegal:

Apparently, the precedent in this situation was set by a Federal Election Commission case (involving a union, no less). Two union employees were allegedly fired for refusing to campaign for a Democratic congressional candidate. When the case reached the FEC, the Republican members backed the union, and the six-member panel was split evenly along party lines.

Which, as Colbert explains, “by FEC rules means [the action being considered] isn’t legal or illegal, which really means it’s legal.”

The Republican members of the commission maintained that requiring employees to work for a political campaign is legal in the wake of the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling, making it the de facto law of the land.

So the next time your employer threatens to fire you if you don’t go to Wisconsin to hand out leaflets for a candidate you hate, remember to thank the Republican FEC members.

What do you think about CEOs telling their employees how to vote?

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