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October 19, 2012

Desperation and Double Standards

Via Memeorandum, the Editorial Staff couldn't help noticing a developing meme:

Recently, several CEOs have issued missives to their workers saying that, if President Obama wins reelection, their jobs might be in danger. One CEO wrote in an email, “The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration.” Another wrote, “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…I am asking you to give us one more chance to stay independent by voting in a new President.”

In audio uncovered by In These Times’ Mike Elk, Mitt Romney himself got in on the action, telling a group of business owners, “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.”

Unsurprisingly, ThinkProgressive left out a pretty important part of the Romney quote - one where he makes it clear he believes employers should share their thinking about public policy issues that affect the business regardless of whether they support Romney or Obama:

"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 at the tail end of a call during which he attacked the president as 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."

Slate has a similarly overwrought post that concludes:

While the practice of an employer offering voting advice to an employee appears to be perfectly legal (as Romney points out), it's nonetheless a somewhat controversial practice that never goes over well with liberals who see lines like "in the best interest of ... their job" as akin to "vote for my guy or else."

Neither author explains why it makes sense for an employee to feel threatened by being encouraged to do something their employer has absolutely NO way to check up on. Last time we checked, voting is a solitary activity: even the nosiest employer will never know how individual employees vote unless the employee volunteers this information.

As there is no way for employers to know how their employees vote, the looming threat being peddled here seems illusory at best. But there's a more important issue here, and it's one of consistency. Our Slate author acknowledges that Romney's suggestion is "perfectly legal", but worries about the intimidation aspect. So shouldn't the same ethical issues apply when the act in question is one Congress has explicitly made illegal?

It matters, because recently not just one, but several Obama administratration officials have done precisely what Messers Voorhees and Garofalo find so troubling:

1. Case 1: FAA officials called a mandatory meeting in which employees were told their jobs would be at risk if they did not vote Democrat:

... Mr. Hickey may have violated any number of laws on the books protecting individuals from intimidation, interference, or coercion concerning their right to vote. It is the obligation of the election crimes division of the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate those matters. Furthermore, Mr. Hickey may have violated several Prohibited Personnel Practices (5 U.S.C §2302) including discrimination against employees based on political affiliation, as well as potential whistleblower retaliation.

John Hickey, deputy associate administrator for Aviation Safety, and Raymond Towles, deputy director of flight standards field operations for the FAA, allegedly violated the Hatch Act in a mandatory meeting with FAA employees in Seattle on May 23.

According to emails between FAA employees the day after the meeting, Hickey and Towles told the employees that their jobs could be affected by Republican victories this November and encouraged them to vote for Democratic candidates.

Apparently intimidation isn't a big concern when it benefits the right candidate.

2. Case 2: Employees at the Social Security Administration and General Services Administrations illegally campaigned for President Obama during work hours on the taxpayer's dime.

Not that this sends any kind of message, mind you.

3. The Office of Special Counsel determined that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act by campaigning for President Obama while in an official capacity and on the taxpayer's dime.

If they find a "perfectly legal" suggestion that employers inform their employees about how each candidate's policies might affect the employer's business to be "intimidating" (even when the suggestion applied to employers who support Obama as well as Romney), one might expect our intrepid authors to be really upset about employers who engage in blatantly illegal campaigning for a specific candidate on the taxpayer's dime!

But you would be wrong. A search of both sites for references to the Obama administration's numerous (and recent) Hatch Act violations yielded nothing. We're not sure why illegal behavior by Obama officials made on the taxpayer dime gets a pass while legal suggestions made to private employers generate so much angst, but we're pretty sure there's a big double standard at work here.

Kind of like the binder brouhaha, where we womynfolk are supposed to be upset that Gov. Romney listened to women's groups and ended up with a cabinet that included nearly 50% women. Infuriating, isn't it?

And how dare Romney adopt the same position as feminist pioneers Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women on the need for flexible work hours for women with families! The sexist trogolodyte.

Posted by Cassandra at October 19, 2012 07:14 AM

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Last time we checked, voting is a solitary activity....

You're cute when you're naive. Think card check only applies to union elections? Think card check really was...defeated? Think the present election isn't a union election?

...not just one, but several Obama administration officials have done precisely....

There you go, looking for symmetry. Silly girl.

Eric Hines

*Diving for cover behind the couch*

Posted by: E Hines at October 19, 2012 03:36 PM

*Diving for cover behind the couch*

Um, Eric, you do recall that, given her propensity for missing the initial target, she has instead been practicing on her rebound shots.
Yanno, just a little fyi for ya.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 19, 2012 04:04 PM

...she has instead been practicing....

Which is why it's my couch behind which I'm headed. I'm good.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 19, 2012 04:16 PM

Well, at least the separation of Church and State is still good.

I mean, churches aren't discussing politics, are they?

Is nothing sacred? {:^)>

Posted by: Don "Binder" Brouhaha at October 19, 2012 06:13 PM

Recently, several CEOs have issued missives to their workers saying that, if President Obama wins reelection, their jobs might be in danger.

That's funny. Because _my_ employer sent around a little memo a month ago at year end saying, in so many words '2012 sucked, If Things Go On, 2013 is going to suck harder'. No names were named, no politics were mentioned, just markets, economics, business.

I'm pretty sure _other_ companies do this as well.

Because we're not _stupid_ the hints were obvious.

Think card check only applies to union elections?

I'm naive. I mark my ballot, the machine sucks it in. The nice poll worker is not looking at my ballot. The box is locked.

How is my employer going to know that I voted?

Posted by: Brian Dunbar at October 19, 2012 09:56 PM


In which Mitt manages to make spd jealous.

Posted by: PuffOnMeds at October 19, 2012 10:36 PM