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."

 

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1527Comments
Oct 10, 2012 4:17PM
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This guy is saying nothing more than more than what a 100+ other companies have told Obama.  The difference is, those other companies got exemptions from Obamacare unlike this guy.  Now why is it that 100's of humongous corporations got exemptions?  Because Obama couldn't handle the loss of jobs from those big boys who threatened the same thing.  Dropping insurance coverage and laying off people. 
Oct 10, 2012 4:17PM
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sounds to me like this jerk is telling his employees to vote for romney. I think that is illegal for a ceo to try to make his employees vote for a specific candidate. 
Oct 10, 2012 4:16PM
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Yah, well I heard that they only make 1 penny an hour and a big chunk of dirt to eat for lunch, that's what I heard.

And I reckon it was a real reliable source too, straight from the horse's mouth, matter o' fact.

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It is "his" business and he can run it as he sees fit. He is expressing what will happen in the future in "his" business as to the fact of the current and political landscape. It's not nice hear hear, but at least he is giving a prognostication for employees to make an intelligent decision. Whether that means find another job or elect someone new. I don't like to hear it, but I applaud the honesty. Either way, he is leaving the decision to his employees. In a way, I think it's relatively fair.  

Oct 10, 2012 4:16PM
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Not much, he isn't telling his workers how to vote.  He just threatens them with being discharged if they vote for Obama.  "Otherwise the decision is all theirs", he sez.  He's a beaut!
Oct 10, 2012 4:15PM
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Lol work20, got any proof of that?  People work for $1/hr or less at his Resorts?

Please shut up then, thank you.

Oct 10, 2012 4:15PM
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THERE ARE PRO'S AND CONS IN BOTH CANDIDATES PROPOSALS, EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN AGENDAS.

Oct 10, 2012 4:15PM
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There has to be a law he is breaking.  He should be investigated by the Feds or State authorities.  What other motive could his email have except to force votes?
Oct 10, 2012 4:15PM
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In the last 30 years, the entire rise in the United States' GDP was transferred into the pockets of the wealthy. The working man got none of this. In fact their purchasing power dropped during the same time frame.

Don't listen to a word of what they say.

Only watch what they do.

Oct 10, 2012 4:14PM
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Sure sounds like intimidation to me and I believe that the employees may have grounds for a lawsuit.  I would run with it if I were the employees and vote for Obama... the truth is that he has enough money he just wants to keep more of the profits that his minimum wage employees make for him... What a scumbag..just like Robme   OBAMA/BIDEN 
Oct 10, 2012 4:14PM
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David Siegel is the kind of guy that got wedgies in school for saying dumb stuff.
Oct 10, 2012 4:13PM
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Illegal immigrants work in his resorts for $1 / hr (or less). And he calls this "hard work" to make money.

But, these CEOs will always have the last say, as long as stupid "capitalist" morons (like the ones on this board) happily work for these CEOs like slaves, and call it "hard work", "free enterprise", etc. These idiots don't even know that they are treated like slaves in their workplaces.

Oct 10, 2012 4:12PM
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Like it or not, he's right. Try owning a business in this economy and you would know where he's coming from.  Oh thats right it's all G.W.B's fault, I almost forgot.

 

 Go ahead & vote for Obama.... Then see who's right!!

Oct 10, 2012 4:12PM
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This is a documented and unapologetic case of Electoral Fraud (Economic Intimidation). and federal prosecutors should already be knocking on this guy's door.
Oct 10, 2012 4:11PM
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Dave,

If you fire all those people, who's going to provide the products you'll need to sell in order to pay for those higher taxes?  It would make more sense to increase production, by hiring more producers, in order to maintain your current income level.

You see Dave, 4 years ago Wall Street got over a trillion dollars in bailouts.  Based on the mean income of just over $50,000, that would pay for 2 million jobs per year for 10 years.  We didn't get them.  Clearly giving business owners money, in tax breaks or bailouts does not produce jobs.

Why not try something else?

Oct 10, 2012 4:11PM
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So this PRICK Siegal rather have Romney win so he can LOWER TAXES for the wealthy and INCREASE TAXES on the middle class....The middle class has been SCREWED over enough..People who make over 200,000 a year should pay HIGHER taxes..People who own 3 houses, 5 cars and all there kids are in ivy league schools or colleges should pay higher taxes..Or a person who writes off all of his lunches and dinners and  has his car paid by the company should pay higher taxes. Most wealthy SOB pay LOWER TAXES then the middle class. Do you see the  BIG PICTURE here. OBAMA 2012.
Oct 10, 2012 4:10PM
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Republicans don't "work hard". They quash competition, bust unions so they can cut benefits and wages, hire lobbyists then buy politicians,  slash payroll by outsourcing jobs, then gamble in the stock market after they "fixed" it where they deposit what you spent in it with your 401k. Now, they're threatening their employees on how to vote, they're suppressing voters, and rigging elections in Florida, Ohio, and the others we'll find out.

When they yell "FREEDOM AND LIBERTY!!!" at you, they don't want you to notice Wisconsin where the police are arresting people exercising their black and white constitutional rights to petition their government for redress of grievances.

Ya, they want more of this.

Get out and vote for your self interest, people. Republicans ain't it.

Oct 10, 2012 4:10PM
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Enough is enough taking from guys like him and giving to lazy people who just want their "OBAMAPHONE".
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