In a June conference call hosted by the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Businesses, Mitt Romney encouraged business owners to let their employees know which candidate they support and how the election's outcome will affect their business.
During a telephone town hall with small-business owners, first reported by In These Times, Romney said President Barack Obama's policies have hurt employers, criticizing the president on trade, labor, and his signature health care law.
"It's an anti-business, anti-job agenda," Romney said.
At the end of the call, Romney urged business owners to relay their thoughts on the election to their employees.
"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."
He continued: "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. I particularly think our young kids ... they need to understand that American runs on a strong and vibrant business and we need businesses growing and thriving this country."
Romney is correct that such behavior is not illegal. After the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which greatly expanded corporations and unions' political speech, employers can legally compel workers to participate in political campaigns.
However, the practice is often controversial. Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel gained national attention when he emailed his employees to argue that Obama's policies would "threaten" their jobs.
"If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company," Siegel wrote, urging his workers to instead vote for Romney.
Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions, made a similar plea in a pro-Romney email leaked last week.
"If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come," Allen wrote.
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