It’s not enough that Republicans across the country have been working to suppress the vote this November – the US Supreme Court ruled today that Ohio’s early voting rules must remain in force – but now we’re hearing about employers sending forceful letters to employees, basically telling them to vote for (and even contribute money to) Republicans.
The Koch brothers letter, detailed below, is part of a packet. Enclosed with the letter, employees received a flyer that lists Koch-endorsed candidates, beginning with Romney. Also included is an anti-Obama editorial by Charles Koch and a pro-Romney editorial by David Koch.
By Rebecca Leber
The Koch brothers’ $60 million pledge to defeat President Obama – along with their political network’s $400 million spending – make them two of the most influential conservatives in this election.
Not content with their unprecedented influence in politics, the Kochs have also taken to influencing the votes of their employees.
According to In These Times, Koch Industries sent 45,000 mailers to employees at Koch subsidiary Georgia Pacific, urging votes for Romney and other conservative candidates. The letter warns ominously of "consequences" for the workers if Republicans lose.
The Koch mailer is one of several recent examples of executives warning that employees may lose their jobs if Republicans do not win in November.
Here is an excerpt of the letter:
"While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.
"If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills."
In These Times also reports that employees are restricted in their political free speech on social media outlets.
"They can intimidate people this way and make life miserable for you. The law would be strong enough to protect them probably, but you could be looking at being without your job for nearly a year," says one Georgia Pacific employee.
One of the most absurd parts of the letter is its hypocritical charges of "cronyism." The Kochs use their money and political clout to influence elections.
Charles Koch once penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed – included in the employee packet – that attacked "partisan rhetoric" and rewards for "politically connected friends." At the time, we listed the various ways the Kochs personally profit from subsidies and government contracts and attempt to influence the political process through every means possible.
Koch Industries has also played a speculative role in hiking oil prices higher for profit. And that "delay" in "important new construction projects," mentioned in the letter refers to projects the Kochs would profit from, like the Keystone XL pipeline for shipping tar sands.
The Kochs are not the only ones attempting to influence employee votes. Two CEOs recently issued threats to employees about their jobs if Obama wins. And Murray Energy’s CEO allegedly coerced donations to Republican candidates after forcing coal miners to attend a pro-Romney rally without pay.
This article first appeared on Climate Progress, part of the Center for American Progress.