The 8,000 employees of Westgate Resorts in Florida have it tough. The resort’s billionaire founder-CEO David Siegel this week openly threatened to fire them if U.S. President Barack Obama gets re-elected on November 6.
In an e-mail to his employees, the outspoken, Republican-leaning owner of the biggest house in the U.S. — “a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot mansion inspired by Versailles” — and the subject of a documentary film called The Queen of Versailles, did not mince his words.
“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration... 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. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone,” he said.
Mr. Siegel, who was found guilty of sexual harassment in a 2008 lawsuit brought by a former Westgate employee, went on to qualify his remarks saying, “Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.”
Yet, sharing a few facts that “might help you decide what is in your best interest”, Mr. Siegel launched into a strong argument using the “one-per cent/ninety-nine per cent” language popularised by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
He said the current administration and members of the press “label us the ‘1%’ and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life”.
Mr. Siegel suggested to his employees that when they make their decision on whom to vote for, they ought to ask themselves which candidate understood the economics of business ownership and who did not. The CEO added, “While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.”
Ending the e-mail with colourful flourish, Mr. Siegel railed against a system that penalised the productive and gave to the unproductive. “My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities,” he argued, predicting that if that happened, “You can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.”
Mr. Siegel’s office declined to offer any comment on when contacted by The Hindu