Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Resort Mogul Threatens to Fire Workers if They Vote for Obama

Screencap from Queen of Versailles Trailer

From Think Progress
David Siegel, who owns Florida-based Westgate Resorts, sent an email to all his employees yesterday to discuss the upcoming election. “The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job,” Siegel wrote, noting that the company is “the most profitable [it's] ever been.” “What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration.” He went on to say that although he “can’t tell you whom to vote for,” if Obama is re-elected, it would mean “fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”
. . . Siegel earned national notoriety this year for his quest to build the biggest house in America, “a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot mansion inspired by Versailles.”

Original Letter on

Full Email Here on Gawker, plus this:
 UPDATE: Shortly after we posted this letter, we found out, thanks to multiple readers, that it bore suspicious resemblances to a popular chain letter that was circulated just before the 2008 elections. Well, we just got off the phone with David Siegel, who told us the letter below is real, and that it was sent out to all of his employees yesterday. "I did use the letter that had circulated before as a guideline, but I changed it [to fit my circumstances]," he told us. "It speaks the truth and it gives [employees] something to think about when they go to the polls." He also said that its threats of possible layoffs are real, based on his assessment of the political and economic climate. He added that he "hasn't had any negative feedback" on the letter.

Direct Quotes from Letter:

Subject: Message from David Siegel
Date:Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: [David Siegel]
To: [All employees]
To All My Valued Employees,
As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: 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. 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.
So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. 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.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn't? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job.
You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.
Signed, your boss,
David Siegel


Bloomberg: Siegel's Role in the 2000 Election of George Bush
“I’m not bragging, I’m just stating the fact: I personally got George W. Bush elected,” Siegel told me during two days of interviews. “I’m not proud of it. I feel like I’m responsible for all the problems in the world.” By that he meant, mostly, the then-deteriorating situation in Iraq.
Here’s Siegel’s account of how he swung the election in Bush’s favor: “Whenever I saw a negative article about [Al] Gore, I put it in with the paychecks of my 8,000 employees. I had my managers do a survey on every employee. If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore. The week before [the election] we made 80,000 phone calls through my call center—they were robo-calls. On Election Day, we made sure everyone who was voting for Bush got to the polls. I didn’t know he would win by 527 votes. Afterward, we did a survey among the employees to find out who voted who wouldn’t have otherwise. One thousand of them said so.”

From a Movie Review for "Queen of Versailles"


Pic and Review via Flickfilosopher
“Everyone wants to be rich,” says real-estate mogul David Siegel here, and that’s probably true. But few people would even conceive of doing with their riches what Siegel does with his. “Horror” isn’t too strong a word for it... and it’s clear that documentarian Lauren Greenfield was aiming for some good old-fashioned rubbernecking when she started shooting what became The Queen of Versailles during the height of America’s cheap-money, pass-the-risk bubble in the mid 2000s.

For Siegel and his wife, Jaqueline -- his third wife, and 30 years younger than him -- were building what would be the largest private residence in the United States, a gaudy monstrosity that would have, when finished, housed a bowling alley, three pools and a spa, 11 kitchens, a skating rink, a movie theater, and a 20-car garage. (This is not an all-inclusive description, but you can find one here, if you’re looking to have your stomach turned some more.) The master bedroom suite alone is, at 6,000 square feet, much larger than most entire homes. The Siegels actually had the gall -- or the ignorance -- to dub this pile Versailles. If either of them have any appreciation of the irony of taking inspiration and a name from the ultimate symbol of crass wealth and absolute privilege, they don’t show it.

Not even when, as happened to the former occupants of the first Versailles, it all comes crashing down around them. . . . More Here at Flickfilosopher

From a blog post on Baltimore City Paper by Edward Ericson Jr.
Siegel, 1999, recall­ing the rent-to-own store he opened in the early ‘60s in Miami:

“Soon Siegel had a store in Lib­erty City and a fleet of Volk­swagon vans. His sales­men offered the refur­bished sets to the area’s African-American res­i­dents for $10 down and $5 a week, he says, adding, ‘I only had about $10 in each one.’

Those $5 pay­ments soon financed three stores, a gas sta­tion, a house with a pool and a Buick con­vert­ible. ‘My goal was to make $125 a week,’ Siegel says. ‘I usu­ally exceeded that.’”

To be fair, he didn’t say whether the Buick con­vert­ible was new.

Shock­ingly, Siegel’s store got burned down in the riots and he ended up in Cen­tral Florida sell­ing swamp land to gullible “investors.” He quickly went on his own and in a few years (if his 1999 rec­ol­lec­tion is to be believed) made mil­lions on those unde­vel­opable acres, mostly by tout­ing their prox­im­ity to Dis­ney World–but also by draw­ing up bogus devel­op­ment plans and occa­sion­ally clear­ing a dirt road. He sold to peo­ple in New Jer­sey, Mex­ico, and as far away as Bel­gium. State reg­u­la­tors and the fed­eral Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment came after him, but he lawyered-up and stared them down. Most of the buy­ers of his prop­er­ties (includ­ing the young man who would go on to become musi­cal direc­tor of Glo­ria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine) had lit­tle or noth­ing to show 20 years later.

What a d*ck. Will someone please let me know when it's time to storm the Bastille? I have my torch and pitchfork ready.
~ comment by SchoolOfStrange on Gawker

Short Version: For the last time, there is no such thing as class warfare. Now, things better go my way or I'll strip you of your livelihoods before I go off to live comfortably in the tropics.
~ comment by OldTowneTavern on Gawker

This is probably the most un-American thing I have ever seen. literally threatening his employees livelihoods to vote for one candidate over another.
~ comment by Nathan Penrose on Think Progress

We went to France and we saw Versaille and were inspired" to build a monstrous piece of crap in the middle of a swamp.
~ comment by homeblood3000 on YouTube

How about selling that garish chair and giving your minimum wage employees healthcare?
~ comment by Tuffy's Dad on Huff Post

The email does raise an interesting question or two, such as, if it’s true that “even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company,” where did all the money for that house come from? And if he made all the right decisions, why did he come so close to bankruptcy? Why does he blame government for the fact that he had to pull his eight kids out of private school? If he couldn’t support a family that large, why did he keep having children?
Under ordinary circumstances, I also wouldn’t think it necessary to pity poor Mr. Siegel. After all, he would seem to have more than enough pity for himself to fill all three swimming pools at Versailles, allowing him to wallow in that emotion to his heart’s content.
~ Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution

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