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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Oct 11, 2012 10:36AM
Oct 11, 2012 10:31AM
A clever ploy by this media article to pit the rich versus the poor......This story is actually swaying you to vote for Obama (Barry S.) and By enraging you to go against the fat Rich employer. By portraing the Wealthy this out of touch it is hoping to Sway sentiments to Barry's side...This story WANTS US TO VIEW THE ULTRA RICH AS ANIMALS, NOT CARING ABOUT EMPLOYED WORKERS...NOTICE HOW the article ALSO MENTIONS OBAMACARE, TAXES IS BAD ON HIM WHICH IMPLIES IT IS GOOD ON US AND LARRY ELLISON another Fat cat needing a loan at the end....GOOD TRY ...BUT.... WE ARE NOT ALL THAT STUPID.....!!! Perfect example on how the media is trying to manipulate you and is owned by the New Order Order....WAKE UP PEOPLE...!!!! YOUR BEING PLAYED....!!!!
Oct 11, 2012 10:18AM
Oct 11, 2012 9:20AM

This super rich guy has that Romney disease call ......Bain Capital. A disease exclusively gotten by Corporate Raiders from their greed.

 ie I stole mine the heck with the 47% percent'ers they're on their own. My Swiss and off shore Bank accounts are mine.

Oct 11, 2012 8:20AM
This story is so biased it's disgusting. If you really care, go look up the story on a non-biased website.
Oct 11, 2012 2:26AM
Stated "payments" when I meant his "revenue."  My bad....
Oct 11, 2012 2:21AM
WTF?   Another greedy bastard putting his employees in a state of distress because he may have to contribute a small portion of his payments to pay for the yacht or personal jet plane...not mentioning the billions in real estate.  WHY is not anyone thinking of the middle class? This guy needs be outsted in the media so that everyone can see what an **** he is and how he is indirectly intimidating his workers to vote against President Obama.  SHAME ON YOU SIR!
Oct 11, 2012 1:33AM
So the rich are the only ones who work hard and help the country?  I have been a social worker for over 40 years and am so proud of what I have had the opportunity to contribute.  I may not have a million bucks and numerous houses etc, but I am very happy with what I do have.  Not all of us want to be rich and selfish.  I am honored to have lived my life contributing and grateful for all I personally have (none of which is provided by the government).  If the rich walked a mile in the shoes of some of my clients, they would not feel so antagonistic towards the poor. We human beings are a community and, I believe, are put on earth to help each other. I am sickened that we in the US have become so greedy and materialistic.  I lived many years in Australia. People there pay high taxes but most told me that they were happy to do so to live in a decent society.  What has happened to us in the good old USA?  It is so sad.  And how dare the rich now decry middle class workers such as firemen, police, teachers, nurses, etc, etc who are keeping our society going without much personal gain?  They should be ashamed.
Oct 11, 2012 1:33AM
What a honey! Poor struggling billionaire... If Obama raises his taxes to the same rate his secretary pays, he'll have to go out of business. Why? Because he'd rather see the resort go down the drain than put linolium on the floor instead of imported marble. (Even though marble floors in a place where people drink a lot is a couple of hundred lawsuits waiting to happen...) This chump, the Trump Chump, and the Koch Brothers are living examples of the biblical dictum that it is easier to pass Cleopatra's barge through the eye of a needle than for a Republican billionaire to get into heaven.
Oct 11, 2012 1:32AM

David Siegel is just stating fact, all who vote for Obama in this next electing will be voting themselves or someone they know out of a job and will even be voting for higher taxes on themselves as raising taxes on just the wealthy won't create enough revenue to pay for all the government hand outs due to a stagnated economy directly caused by the Obama administrations Socialist policies. Businesses will lay off and down size, because of the added expense of Obamacare and new taxes, combined with a slow economy. I can't believe how many people are following Obama like little lost sheep needing a shepherd to guide them. Mr.Obama took you all for a ride 4 years ago promising Hope and Change, spreading wealth and he himself said he'd fix the economy in 3 years and if not he'd be a one term President. None of what he promised happened and none are doing any better. Will you fall for the Obama rhetoric again ? It's time to make Obama one term President and get  real President that will create jobs and a good economy. Mitt Romney has the proof he can and will do it, he has done it as Governor in Massachusetts and Massachusetts has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.

Oct 11, 2012 1:19AM
I'm fortunate to be in the 5% club. Some would call me a job creator. Which I find amusing considering I would mechanize as much of my production as possible.  If It were cost effective to do so. As would any business. We do it to create, make money and ego. And, that being said, I don't feel a war is being waged against me. Please, find a new mantra. I'm not buying what your selling.
Oct 11, 2012 12:58AM
Lean and mean....  elevators and marble.   NO WAY!      Fair taxes will help the rest of us "mean and lean" earners get a higher grade linoleum.   This guy needs a reality check instead of a reality show. 
Oct 11, 2012 12:34AM
This guy is obviously an a...hole who doesn't deserve to breathe our air. When he dies I'm sure all of the money he has "stored away" won't be a damn bit of use for him. It's too bad he won't be able to look back at what happens to his little empire when he's gone because, if he could, it might change his attitude toward his employees now. NOTE TO EMPLOYEES: GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THIS IDIOT ASAP. 
Oct 11, 2012 12:28AM
Siegal by the way, was sued by a former employee for sexual harrasment in 2009 and lost, having to pay the former employee who worked 14 years  for Westgate Resorts, 5.4 million dollars.  Mr. Siegal sure is a man of "high" morals. A man of that defines the party of "family values", the Republican Party.  
Oct 11, 2012 12:25AM
Well, he's free do as he wishes with his company and no President can make him do otherwise. He is correct in what he says, many companies will lay off and will down size if Obama wins and it has nothing at all to do with not liking Obama, wanting to get revenge or any of that conspiracy bull. It is just what will need to be done by many many companies to make up for the extra expense. You see a successful business has a budget it sticks to (unlike our government) and if it loses money in one place it needs to cut back somewhere to make up the loss. Taxes and Obamacare are an extra expense and will cost businesses more money, if they don;t get more business to make up the loss, they will cut back and lay off and some may even shut down. The good part is, Obama will not win re-election. I just saw an electoral college model by the University of Denver and the Political Science Professors that has been around since 1980, it has never been wrong and predicted every winning President since 1980 (it even predicted Obama last election), it has Mitt Romney winning this election by a near landslide, so we don't have to worry, no one will be laid off and many, many Americans will get jobs again.
Oct 11, 2012 12:22AM
And that's okay.  Fire them, lay them off, I will hire them and so will many others.  It's time for a change with the "so called successful Losers" in our nation to start really learning who are really the backbone of this nation and authority and power.  Your mooney means nothing if you don't want to play with the rest!!!!!!
Oct 11, 2012 12:19AM
If obama wins re-election. Ok, fine, nobody is fired or laid off, but.....everyone's hours are cut to exactly 29. So vote for obama and enjoy. You want to re-elect him, fine, then YOU pay for it.
Oct 11, 2012 12:19AM

Now I knida wish Obama was a socialist, so he could Tax this jerk into the poor house!

Oct 11, 2012 12:19AM
Rapture1317, you're as full of sht as a Christmas turkey!  The middle class are the ones who create jobs by providing demand for products.
Oct 11, 2012 12:14AM
Lawyers line up.  Isn't that some sort of labor violation?  When he fires them, get him in his pocket!
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