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 10, 2012 1:55PM
Irony: HE went 1 BILLION in DEBT, (which sounds like he made some pretty poor decisions to me) but now, 4 years later, (during the Obama years) he's back to normal and everything for HIM is GREAT.  

Oct 10, 2012 1:54PM
As a business owner, I could be greedy and take all the profits I could out of the companies I own but instead I return part of it to the know those people who MAKE me look good.

As long as I have enough money to pay the bills and buy some beer, I'm a happy camper.  But then again, I'm not greedy like these scumbags.

Oct 10, 2012 1:54PM
"This from someone who became a symbol of outsized spending, debt and real estate in America?" HMMMM!!! That heading alone tells me the whole story about this greedy azz ba$tard!!  Built the largest new house in America and he's "cutting back? Suck my @#$%!!!
Oct 10, 2012 1:53PM
   He isn't smart or original.  
Oct 10, 2012 1:51PM

May Obama be re-elected and this a-hole's creditor immediately call in all his loans.  After all, he's already stated that he's willing to shutdown his source of income if Obama wins.  The company will go into receivership and be sold during bankruptcy proceedings to someone who wants to see it succeed.  His employes have nothing to worry about.

Of course, if they're pissed off about his attitude, they might just pull an AA-pilot's style revolt.

Oct 10, 2012 1:51PM

Siegel's way of thinking is exactly why we need to vote for Obama. Wah, wah, wah Mr. Siegel -  "would you like to have a little Wine with your imported Cheese in your Versaille Castle?"


Any small sacrifices the rich are asked to do, seems like a mountain to them. Granted I don't advocate that people rely on the Government but only in extreme circumstances like disabilities or temporary unemployment. Case in point - Siegel is asked to do his small part and all he knows to do is lay off his employees. The employees will then be forced to apply for unemployment. Did Obama cause the crash of 2007/2008? Who is really responsible for the mess we are in?  

Oct 10, 2012 1:48PM

How many other businesses will be in the same position and not just as forthright as Siegel. He is not only providing jobs within his company but with the products and services he buys.


Oct 10, 2012 1:47PM

Ship these ingrates to Somalia then let's see how wealthy they become. These people will never stop whining about paying taxes. He needs to pay the same rate everybody else pays. If he can't make it while others can, then he's a lousy businessman. You know, "free market" and all that stuff. The free market culls the inefficient out, sounds like he's sub par.

I see nothing wrong with his remark. I also believe romney was 100% correct in his assement of the people that don't want to work. Notice that the title takes out of context the actual contents of the e-mail. If taxes are raised alot of employers will have to cut employment to maintain revenue margins
Oct 10, 2012 1:43PM
Last time I checked, you're only taxed on a % of profits, not revenue, so why would layoffs be necessary? Shouldn't it just affect growth?
Oct 10, 2012 1:43PM
Great Strength ,fortitude and honesty to his employees . Most people and the media don't understand what the 47% comment means truly. Romney didn't mean he didn't care about them as Human Beings when he made the comment but rather he didn't care that same 47% of people will always vote Democrat . If your not a business owner and have employees than you will probably find it hard to understand Davis Seigal/ Westgate Guy  
Oct 10, 2012 1:39PM
He must have Romney on his payroll.  Don't live beyone your means...
Oct 10, 2012 1:37PM
Where is this guy's patriotism?  This is another example of a guy who has no clue and thinks his success is all self made.  No roads, ports, or infrastrucure helped him acheive what he did.  Pure and simple and total greed.  Disgusting.  What would Jesus think?
Oct 10, 2012 1:35PM

Pro business policies do not exist with this administration.  They would help to expand business increase revenue, and create new employment.  Legislation that cuts into revenue adds expenses there is a point the bottom line dictates it is not worth being in business. 

Oct 10, 2012 1:32PM
I am sure this guy will shut down shop if Obama wins and those policies go into effect.  After all, he is a great business man and I am sure he mad his fortune by paying his employees much more than they are earning for him.
Oct 10, 2012 1:20PM

Let him go to hell. If he lays off then he  earns less and suffers  too.

Don't be bulled by such  low people. I would not let anybody run

with such threat. He wealth stays with him,we don't need it. 



Oct 10, 2012 1:12PM
This is a very irresponsible and stupid statement. It is just plain old comment sense. SAVE! SAVE! especially in good economy, save more. Instead building mansion, buy jet and spent like no tomorrow. Do you share some with your hardworking employees instead use this excuse to threaten their jobs. You did it to yourself and don't blame anyone. Well deserve it.
Oct 10, 2012 12:55PM
it sucks that this message comes across as vote romney or you're fired because that is how it is exagerated. I do not believe influences should be given like this to swing votes. However, I think it is a very direct and real message that people can grasp the consequences of taxes and other spending and how it effects a business and therefore employment.
Oct 10, 2012 12:54PM

this fellow won't be alone


get ready for republicans coming out of the woodwork to vote out the celebrity rock star

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