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 12, 2012 5:24PM
This is voter intimidation. 

David Siegel is one who is very careless with his money building a palace and running out of money. He shouldn't be telling anyone what to do.
Oct 12, 2012 1:01PM

I cannot understand how anyone with a Uteri us and a Conscious could ever vote for Romney/Ryan. Ladies – do not set us back.

I will vote for Obama and Biden!

Oct 12, 2012 12:39PM

By now Americans have seen the effect of Obama-Biden in the past 4 years and even we did not see more postings like this one before the effect to their policies was the same and they were laid off from positions. Now you multiply the effect 4 more years and there will be plenty more ads like this one popping up.

Oct 12, 2012 9:52AM
alot of companies will do the same. he just said it up front and good for him for being honest
Oct 12, 2012 9:41AM

If his company can not afford to pay all the taxes and fees then he will have to lay off or cease to operate. Why would that be hard to see. No one was calling him a "pig" 35 yr ago when he was a policeman and bought some frosted out orange groves. Then Disney world wanted to build. They tried to buy his property but he chose to keep it himself and build condos. He was a daring idea man when he did that.

But if you can not make money you sell out or go out of business. It will affect jobs adversely.

Oct 12, 2012 7:56AM
Biden was the same low class jerk & jack **** last night that he has always been. Just like all the jackasses who vote for him.
Oct 11, 2012 7:48PM

Please don't misconstrue what I have said. My wife and I were Westgate owners in Gatlinburg tn for 11 yr. We were on site when David Siegel came to visit the property. His onteroge looked like the gold chained big ring wearing parade.

One of his salesmen told us Mr Seigels' neighbor in Florida was Shaq O'neil. O'neil built a 45,000 sq ft house then. Not be be outdone, Mr Seigel built a 45,001 sq ft home just so his would be the biggest in his neighborhood.{true story} He is the poster boy for excess. But, he did start as a Florida policeman who bought some frosted out orange groves in Oranlando area just when Disney world was beiginning. He made his money from there.

Oct 11, 2012 7:37PM

The way I read it is if the increases go through it is more than he can pay. He will be forced to close his business. He has plenty of money. It will not hurt any more than his pride.

If it is still so profitable, i am sure another company will buy his properties and make money. If they can not make money they will not buy them. Black and white. I can afford whatever he does or the business owners do. Can you? Are you real sure?

Oct 11, 2012 7:18PM
This guy is obnoxious.  If my employer spoke that way, I'd find a new one.
Oct 11, 2012 5:08PM

Siegel has already fired 5000 of his employees since the 2007-2008 financial meltdown.  Does this clown even remember why we had a financial meltdown or who was in office then?  If he wants to blame someone for a decline in business, he should first look at real estate speculators for creating a bubble, then crooked mortgage companies for deceptive practices, then Congress for passing the Fiancial Services Modernization Act of 1999 that allowed banks to engage in speculative activities, and finally at the regulators who were asleep at the wheel.  Without these things coming together to create a perfect storm, we might have had a recession, but it would have been less severe and much shorter. These things all happened long before Obama was president.


It's a little hard to feel sorry for someone who has a million square foot house with a dozen elevators.  It's my guess that his business is continuing a downward slide, and he has to blame someone.  I'll bet he lays off more employees no matter who wins. 





Oct 11, 2012 4:09PM
Since Dave Siegal decided to abuse his position and get all political, I a potential customer shall do so also. I will have no contact whatsoever with Westgate Resorts, Inc. and I hope all the othe Democrats (around 50% of Westgate Resorts Inc.'s potential customer base) decides likewise. David Siegal can then think long and hard over where his priorities lie.
Oct 11, 2012 4:00PM
So - he can spend tens of millions on a HOUSE, jet and private schools but God forbid he has to pay more for healthcare for his workers and take out less profit.  He's just gonna close the business instead.  Waa, waa, if I have to pay for your healthcare and can't afford to put more marble in my house or keep the jet I won't play.  Like Romney he is so out of touch with reality.  At least 47% reality.  Grow up!
Oct 11, 2012 3:03PM
What a drama queen, he needs a good kick in the rear and his company boycotted if he does that, acting like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum because things didn't go his way. Short-sighted and narrow-minded.
Oct 11, 2012 1:58PM
It's time for Atlas to shrug.......enough of the moochers and looters.  I've got a questions for all the deadbeats out there "just how much of MY money should I get to keep?"  It's time for a legitimate, realistic 3rd party in this country.   
Oct 11, 2012 1:41PM
Wonder why Obamas head of the jobs panel moved GEs medical division to China.
Oct 11, 2012 12:46PM

I personally think he should have waited until after the election to make such a comment, if any.  To think his small portion of employees would determine the outcome of the presidential race is ridiculous.  If Romney wins, the employees would have never heard any form of statement from him.  Now he has placed a perception in minds of many of his employees which may or may not affect his business production quality. 

Oct 11, 2012 12:32PM
"Siegel stressed that he wasn't out to intimidate his workers into voting for Romney."

Oh, sure he wasn't. If you saw the movie, you know what an egomanic jerk this guy is.

He is a bigger AH than our politicians and Donald Trump are. I take that back, no one is a bigger AH than Trump, but Seigel gives him a good run for it.
Oct 11, 2012 12:18PM
I guess i will NEVER go to westgate resorts Ever . Have no use for a puke like this guy who is rich enough to give his employees healthcare ! I bet he has it LMFAO... Typical repuke using threats ..
Oct 11, 2012 11:40AM

I am voting for President Obama.    This comment by this  sleaze ball rich b_ _ _ h  is going to sway many undecided voters to Pres. Obama.  He just proved that Romney is for the rich and  not for the poor or middle class..  Siegel already forgot that it was his employees that made his business flourish.  How quick they forget.  If you have any B_ _ S, you would take  that statement  back. and apologize to your employees.

Oct 11, 2012 11:22AM
backcountry..tells me all I want to know about you
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