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 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 1:55PM
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 1:35PM

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 1:58PM

David Siegel is an a business owner myself our federal tax rates are at some of the lowest rates in history.  State and local taxes are killing small business, not federal taxes. if Romeny wins the economy will tank using the GOP economic plans of the GWB. If you believe lower taxes equate to a strong economy and wealth you too are an idiot as you have not read history or understand economics.


We are at some of the lowest federal tax rates in history..............that's right. What most like Mr Siegel fail to understand or admit is State and local taxes are hurting the small business 10X what the federal taxes are.

Look at our tax rate history and prove me wrong.............I challenge anyone here to prove that our federal tax rates are not at some of the lowest in history.............

Oct 10, 2012 3:12PM

If Siegel was a competent capitalist he wouldn't be running so threadbare. And if he was a moral human, he wouldn't be spewing this degeneracy.


His employees would do well to get gone now and find a respectable person to work for.

Oct 10, 2012 2:03PM

he's been going under since the early 2000's and now he's trying to justify his overspending lavish lifestyle to this president. LIES!!! He's indirectly forcing his staff to vote romney by threat of losing there employment


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 2:05PM
What he is saying is, his employees better vote for Romney or they will be fired. Setting the tax rate for rich at the Clinton levels will not hurt this man. He's basically threathening his workers.
Oct 10, 2012 12:50PM
I'm sure he won't be the only one. Business can't afford Obo and his socialist policies.
Oct 10, 2012 3:59PM

excuse me buddy, but who do you think has been bailing out YOUR rich behind? 

Yup, those very same middle-class employee's you are now threatening.


Who bailed out the banks? The middle classes

Who bailed out the auto industry? The middle classes.

Who is being taxed at a higher % of their income? - The middle classes


So buddy, until you start to pay AN EQUAL PERCENTAGE of TAXES on your income - don't threaten us.  Get out of the US of A and take your crappy company with you (have stayed at Westgate - cockaroaches and dead animals were in my condo!  What a dump.


Beware rich people, the uprising is coming - We the people are not going to put up with your GREED and SELFISHNESS and outragous profits any more. 

Pay people a LIVING WAGE - we work just as hard making companies work right. 

All you do is spend money on material things.

Greedy pig.

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 5:43PM
This guy is the scum of the earth.  Greed and arrogance gone berserk.  I work for a living. My wife and I paid over $10,000 in Federal Income taxes last year.  We consider ourselves fortunate, probably ranking in income around the 85th  percentile.  Before my wife retired, we were in the 95th percentile as to income.  If we need to, we could pay more.  It's a damn shame what this country has come to.  Taxes are at the lowest point in 40 years.  When I was a kid in the 60's, the marginal tax rate was 90%.  There was still plenty of rich people around.  Here's a concept for you, after World War 2, the marginal rate was 91%.  Why???  To pay off the debt from the war.....WHAT A CONCEPT (Iraq and Afghanistan)!!!!!
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

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 2:52PM

Translated to: I have more than I can possibly ever used, but if I have to give any of the excess I am "still getting" up I will exact genocide on the 5000 plus people that bust their butts for me just because I can.

 This is not a great business man and does not care one bit about the people that made him rich. He is a wart on humanities a$$.

 Get out of the way so someone "less greedy" can take over your position in the business world and have an opportunity to do well also, Maybe one of the people that presently work for you.

This is nothing but pure GREED

Oct 10, 2012 2:59PM
"Not threatening his employees or telling them how to vote" - right!  This guy is the epitome of what is wrong with corporate America and the class warfare they have been waging on the middle class.  It has been 100 years since the corporate chieftains used these same tactics to intimidate.  From Jack Welch (who insulted a highly educated and independent group of hundreds of people when he "challenged the jobs numbers") to this jerk.  And you want their poster children (Romney and Ryan) in the Whitehouse?  Not me.
Oct 10, 2012 2:53PM
This is an unfortunate reality that few people want to realize.  The reality is that the rich don't need us nearly as much as we need them.  It isn't what we want to hear, but it is the truth.  Many wealthy people, like Siegel, have the ability to take their money and go elsewhere with it.  They may be seem like snobby little brats, but just like real snobby little brats, they can get pissed off, take their toys and go home rather than share too much with others, except in this case it isn't toys, but capital.
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 2:02PM
Remember what happened to the original "versailles" family - you greedy doosh........I bet most of your money is residing outside the US allready ....

Not sure where your last resorts are but I will never patronize one .....

All u defenders of this worthless POS need your tiny brains examined ......microscopes for sale ...
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