CEO to workers: If Obama wins, you're fired

This from someone who became a symbol of outsized spending, debt and real estate in America?

By MSNMoney partner Oct 10, 2012 12:22PM

CNBC logoRobert Frank


David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, sent a surprising email to his employees Monday.


It said that if President Barack Obama wins re-election and raises Siegel's taxes, he will have to lay off workers and downsize his company — or even shut it down.


"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," he wrote. "Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone."


In a version of Romney's "47 percent" remarks, Siegel added that "people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for."


The points are ones that have often been made during this election. But what makes the letter surprising is the source.


David Siegel is the man who, together with his wife, Jackie, built the largest new house in America, known as "Versailles." His story first appeared in my book "The High-Beta Rich." It then made it to the big screen with the documentary film "The Queen of Versailles."


They became symbols of outsized spending, debt and real estate in America.


But when the company started buckling under $1 billion in debt during the crisis, the Siegels' home went into foreclosure and was put up for sale. They cut back on the jet, took the kids out of private school and gave up some of their staff. (Read more: Social Media's Billion-Dollar Rollercoaster)


So why is David Siegel — a man who defined excess and debt in the 2000s — now saying that debt and spending are ruining the country?


I asked David and during a phone interview last night, and he told me that this was about his workers, not him. He said his own finances have vastly improved. He has paid off all of his major lenders. "I have enough money for the rest of my life and enough to leave a good inheritance for our kids." He said the loan for Versailles is paid off and he's resuming construction on the home.


"The elevators are going in and they're preparing to put in the marble."


The deal with Versailles' lenders, he went on, worked out "better than I imagined," since he was allowed to go nine months without making any interest payments on the loan. Jackie has several offers for a new reality TV show "which we're in the process of ranking and evaluating," Siegel said.


He has learned his own painful lesson from the debt crunch. "We cut back, we're lean and mean. That's what the rest of the country has to do."


Siegel said he's acting not out of self-interest but for the interest of his workers. While Westgate has never been more profitable, the company has 5,000 fewer workers than in 2007.


He said that if Obama is re-elected and imposes Obamacare and higher taxes, he may just have to let more of his remaining 7,000 workers go. He said he might even shut down the company. (Read more: Why Larry Ellison Needs a $4 Billion Loan)


"The combination of Obamacare and taxes would be a disaster," he said. "I would probably just call it a day and that would be a disaster."


Siegel stressed that he wasn't out to intimidate his workers into voting for Romney. "I can't tell anyone to vote," he said. But he wants to make sure his workers make an informed choice. "I want my employees to be educated on what could happen to their future if the wrong person is elected."


More from CNBC

Oct 10, 2012 6:48PM
 I had to lay off nine employees last year,  and it looks as seventeen more will be going out the door this coming year.  Only had fifty nine employees to begging with,  and the Government regulations that started three years ago took a big bite on the final line.  All of my employees enjoyed free healthcare for themselves and their families for the last twenty one years.  Starting this year their pocket cost for healthcare will start at $491 per month for the first time(for those who will be willing to stay employed with my company).  Thank you Obama/Pelosi/Reid,  for pushing a useless "Healthcare bill" that will destroy the small people of the greatest Nation in the world.
Oct 10, 2012 6:45PM
this is what a plutocracy looks like in the form of this dog, some how the workers are not working he is doing them a favor and they should be grateful for his crumbs,you know why most of wall st hates the president because his policies give us more flexibility in the work place,if you dont have to stick with a job you hate because of health care, you are free to start your own business or find one better, you dont have to feel the financial strain of a severe illness as much, most of us are an illness away from financial devastation. i know there are a few christians on here the scripture talks about oppressing a man in his wages,this is what this thing is doing, it cant be human,you should shudder that a person this powerful can ruin you with job loss because he feels like it.the other thing the president did on the issue of student loans, he took the money given to banks to lend to us(basically we give the banks our money to lend to us,how stupid was that ?and charge us interest to boot)instead  every one on this vine who pays taxes loan money to the millions of students and we get it back to lend to the next crop of students,the banks were mad this was a pretty sweet deal and the president took that away i dont know about you but if rich powerful,people are mad at him it must mean he is doing something right for the rest of us.2 trillion dollars is sitting on the sidelines ,mostly out of spite,they hate this man immensely that they will punish us and the counrty so we dont vote for him and these middle class laws go away with him,its like these business men have imposed  economic sanctions on the country that made them rich, rememer one guy buying a bentley does not drive the economy as 2000 citizens buying a new ford fusion we run the economy not them we dont buy they dont get wealthy.
Oct 10, 2012 6:43PM
I thought Republicans were supposed to be Christian. Apparently 'greed' is no longer a sin.

I seem to remember a story where Jesus told a rich man to give up all hi money to the poor, and follow him. That must be one of the stories that Republicans ignore.

It makes you wonder, if this Republican was truly Christian, how many starving children would his mansion feed? And I wonder what his "savior" would say to him?

Oct 10, 2012 6:43PM
All these people are creeps.  This guy couldn't even finish building his own house.  Imagine what his business is like.  I wouldn't want to work for him anyway.  If Romney wins, his employees won't see any benefit there either.  He'll use whatever extra he gets to finish his house - and buy another probably. 
Oct 10, 2012 6:42PM
West gate Resorts need to be shut down if the owner acts like that. Lets make sure that no one buys his time share so some other company will take him over and he is out of business.
Oct 10, 2012 6:41PM
It took years and years to get into this mess we are in today around the world please tell me how can a person in 4 years change all this when he is fought every step of the way and the media writing what ever they want cause they know the american people will believe anything they write every president speaks about the same thing and have any ever stood by his word No and we all know why any way it goes we are not getting out of this mess in another 4 years so you can just forget that dream and mr obama well he been attack from day one he never had a chance and we know why on that too
Oct 10, 2012 6:39PM
All I read on here is greedy..yes greedy...little people that hate the guy because he is rich. It is HIS money! It doesn't matter what his personal finances are like, that is seperate from his company. If the guy says that obama's socialist medicine will be bad for his company, WHO THE HELL ARE YOU to tell him differently, are you privy to his books? That is what you dems/commies/socialists fail to is not is HIS. And no one owes you a living, you people sicken me with your rhetoric.
Oct 10, 2012 6:39PM


You're saying you don't want to vote for a liar??? You better listen harder to Romney and lying Ryan.

Oct 10, 2012 6:37PM
Why should a self-made man have to give back more. by saying the rich should have to pay more goes against everything this country was founded upon. If that becomes offensive to me than maybe I should go and create for myself instead of waiting for a hand out of sorts. I personally pay more now for healthcare than 4 years ago. And my agent has shown me what my premium will be if Obama-care comes into play. I AM middle america, and it is time for real change!!
Oct 10, 2012 6:35PM
Lurch, if you're still reading this column, I have been self-employed all my life, am a Nam Vet and did my time so you can call me a 'welfare-case'.  KMA, we are helping  this country.  We're fixing what YOUR TYPE left us, it just took a little longer thanks to YOUR unpartiotic blocking of everything that needed to be done in order to fix things.   Who's the TREASONOUS ONES?  Go look in the mirror, db.
Oct 10, 2012 6:33PM

Yeah -- if Obummer wins, we're all fired!

Oct 10, 2012 6:30PM
Oct 10, 2012 6:30PM
This seems like a perfect company to boycott forever.  I wouldn't want to contribute one nickel to this overblown SOB's, overblown mansion. 
Oct 10, 2012 6:30PM
I'm voting for Romney by the way.  Obama has lied:  Done nothing about our jobs going overseas, remember the TV aid where he is standing on the beach and saying There should be Fair Trading policies; Taking billions out of the Social Security Fund, when its already low when the Republican took 7 Trillion balance the budget; That came out in the debates,  Thirdly - His recent actions against Arizona concerning illegal aliens in our country.  I worked at the Dept. of Social Services = These illegals will bankrupt our country.  Where our own country people will be turned downed assistance because of us paying for illegals on Food Stamps & Mecicaid.  They will swamp our tax resources that are needed to care for the elderly & poor.  Wait until you need to put a love one who is elderly in a Nursing Home & the State says No, no funding.  Wait until you need help to feed your kids because you lost your job & the State says No, no funding. Wait until you child needs surgery but the State says no, No funding for Medicaid for kids.  The American people who are receiving assistance are not low lifes.  They are the uneducated people who worked in our manufacturing jobs and were happy to do so. No they weren't rich, they knew the majority of the people in America were better off than them. But they paid their taxes, lived in their small homes/trailer/rental homes, feed their kids and tried to better for their kids than what they had. When our manufacturing jobs went there was no where for them to go to work at. Now people say these are entitlement programs, there not. Their entitlement programs for the Mexicans and other individual in our Country illegally. They know about these programs and are coming here is droves to get the free hand-outs.
Oct 10, 2012 6:29PM
I just googled Westgate Resorts. There are more than a dozen of those 'resorts' which are high-end hotels and vacation packages.  I'm sure his employee list is in the thousand-range if not more. I picked one in Park City Ut. (used to live there) and know that almost all those employees he emailed are in the 'service industry'.... as in, the lower working class he's referring to that need assistance to live.   I know FOR A FACT that most 'service industry' personnel that work in Park City can't afford to live there under what most would call 'comfortable' conditions.   Remember THAT, working class. 
Oct 10, 2012 6:29PM
Our country is never going to get better as long as we keep dumbing down this once great nation with reality TV and putting morons in charge of teaching our kids in public schools.  Just look at the comments below, half of you can't even spell correctly or form complete sentences.  It does not matter who gets elected, this nation will fall because nobody values or respects intellect anymore.  And this Siegel guy is the perfect example.  God forbid that the rich pay an equal share of the tax burden as the rest of us.  I do not feel entitled to anything, I just want to pay the same percentage of taxes as the rest of the nation, rich or poor.
Oct 10, 2012 6:28PM
Oct 10, 2012 6:27PM
I'm sure he pays his employees or the majority of them minimum wage. He won't close that business, if he really does want to quit, he'll sell out and new owner needs employees. He's a bully.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.




Quotes delayed at least 15 min
Sponsored by:


There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.
There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.
Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended the midweek session with slim gains after showing some intraday volatility in reaction to the release of the latest policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 added 0.1%, while the relative strength among small caps sent the Russell 2000 higher by 0.3%.

Equities spent the first half of the session near their flat lines as participants stuck to the sidelines ahead of the FOMC statement, which conveyed no changes to the ... More


There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.