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Introduction: "Bill shares his thoughts on corporate executives who - enabled by the Citizens United ruling - strong-arm their employees to vote as they say."

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)

When Bosses Push Their Politics

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company

27 October 12



ILL MOYERS: Here's a significant revelation of which you may not be aware. The plutocrats know it and love it, and the rest of us should be forewarned. When the Supreme Court made its infamous Citizens United decision, liberating plutocrats to buy our elections fair and square, the justices may have effectively overturned rules that kept bosses from ordering employees to do political work on company time. Election law expert Trevor Potter told us that now "corporations argue that it is a constitutionally protected use of corporate ‘resources' to order employees to do political work or attend campaign events - even if the employee opposes the candidate, or is threatened with being fired for failure to do what the corporation asks."

Reporter Mike Elk at In These Times magazine came across a recording of Governor Mitt Romney on a conference call in June with some business executives. The Governor told them there is quote, "nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well."

And here's Governor Romney two months later, campaigning at an Ohio coal mine:

MITT ROMNEY: This is a time for truth. I listened to an ad on the way here. I'll tell you, you got a great boss. He runs a great operation here. And he - Bob? Where are you Bob? There he is.

BILL MOYERS: Look at all those miners around him, steadfastly standing in support, right? They work for a company called Murray Energy and attendance at the rally, without pay, was mandatory. Murray Energy is notorious for violating safety regulations, sometimes resulting in injuries and deaths. And the company has paid millions in fines. The CEO, Bob Murray, a well-known climate change denier and cutthroat businessman, insists that his employees contribute to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates, or else. In one letter uncovered by "The New Republic" magazine, Murray wrote quote, "We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts." So much for voting rights and the secret ballot at Murray Energy.

Mike Elk discovered that the Koch Brothers, David and Charles - who have pledged to spend $60 million defeating President Obama - have sent a "voter information packet" to the employees of Georgia Pacific, one of their subsidiaries. It includes a list of recommended candidates, pro-Romney and anti-Obama editorials written by the Koch's and a cover letter from the company president. If we elect the wrong people, Dave Robertson writes, "Many of our more than 50,000 US employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills." Other ills? Like losing your job?

This is snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, e-mailed his employees, "If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don't want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come."

Back in the first Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses and company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a block. As we said at the beginning of this broadcast, the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance. Welcome to the plutocracy. The remains of the ol' USA. your social media marketing partner


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+100 # tswhiskers 2012-10-27 10:47
Great! It's not dishonest enough that Rep. Governors have done everyting they can to suppress the votes of minorities and the elderly. Now wealthy business owners can extort their employees' votes and probably get away with it. I have tried to listen to Fox News but within minutes I get so angry and disgusted with their lies and fairy tales that I want to throw something at my TV. So I have suspected that the main function of Fox News is to keep the Rep. base happily ignorant of the truth of Rep. policies and underhanded tactics esp. in election years. How fortunate it is that the Dems have wised up and have thousands of lawyers on hand this year to contest fraudulent vote counts whenever they seem likely to have occurred. If you ask the average voter who cheats in elections, he will probably say both parties cheat, but I know the Reps. are a class by themselves when it comes to "winning" elections. The Dems are newborn babes by comparison.
+78 # Erdajean 2012-10-27 12:14
Somebody remind me, please -- what WAS it that made the Continentals mad enough to fight to the death against the rule of King George and Lord and Lady Thus-and-So? I mean, those hotheads could have lived in PEACE if they'd just done as they were TOLD. Oh yeah -- Peace and Prosperity!

Conscience? Independent thought? Poor people (the current 99 percent) aren't equipped to worry about right and wrong -- we need not trouble our scruffy little heads about poverty and wars and human inequality. THAT's what the Boss is for! And don't go around upsetting other peasants with your disrespectful opinions, either.

People, we are right back down to the Old Plantation, with moral and intellectual crap like the Kochs and Grover Norquist and the Romneys in the Big House. What ARE we going to do about this? It cannot be a question of "if" -- it's how and when, or we leave our kids a world where maggots are in charge.
+34 # Skyelav 2012-10-27 12:45
I can't answer your question. Seems the getting the truth about them out is like putting toothpaste back into the tube.
0 # RLF 2012-10-28 05:15
One advantage to having ignorant f@*ks that vote Repube is that they are like children...if you tell them to do something...the y get their back up and do the opposite.
+3 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-10-28 08:59
As much as I agree with you, as much calling 99% the poor people is misrepresenting reality.
There are poor people in the USA (and we owe to our collective conscience to help them) but on a planet where more than two billions and a half people live on less than two dollars a day you don't make your point credible by claiming that 99% of the population of the US is poor.

Still, thumbs up.
-2 # holisticpsych 2012-10-30 12:34
What about Chris Steven's employer who sent him into harms way and then sat back and watched while he struggled for 7+ hours to stay alive. That kind of employer scares me much more.
+63 # DaveM 2012-10-27 11:34
In effect, employers who do this have turned the election into a lottery for their employees. Thankfully we still have the secret ballot--at least in theory no one can know who an individual votes for. But these threats are not being made on the basis of an individual vote. They are being made about the outcome of an election.

Employers with such employees have been reduced to the status of serfdom.
+75 # George Kennedy 2012-10-27 11:41
There is no moral or political equivalent to the GOP when it involves a willingness to subvert our Democracy to preserve greed, avarice, and corporate rule. Our most potent weapons are information and the vote. To this I would add a willingness to defend our rights. What is a job without individual freedom? Slavery. Look at our history.
0 # Scott Galindez 2012-10-27 11:48
George, please email me @
+82 # Doll 2012-10-27 11:47
Voter Suppression.

Black box voting.

And now, employer intimitation.

It seems that Republicans cannot win a fair election - and they know it.
+10 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-10-28 09:01
Unfortunately it does not meant they cannot win an election.
+48 # Regina 2012-10-27 11:50
Isn't blackmail a crime? And aren't votes secrets? Or have the Republicans bought off the legal profession?
+23 # jJLLA 2012-10-27 13:42
Yes. Yes. and the answer to your final question....YES
+36 # margpark 2012-10-27 11:59
I don't see how you can control someone's vote unless you make your employees vote absentee ballots and vet them all. I can see how attendance at rallys or asking them to do political work from there desks could happen. It shouldn't happen but it could. Contributing money to someone you don't like on your bosses command is certainly coercion.
+69 # Tazio 2012-10-27 12:10
This all reminds me of the 3/5ths rule in the Constitution. When I was a kid, I thought it meant that while slaves didn't get a full vote, at least they got something. Then I learned that no slave ever voted. The rule was put in to appease southern plantation owners who could then cast votes based on the number of slaves they owned. Thus a plantation owner with 100 slaves would get to cast 60 votes, plus his own for a total of 61 votes. The man who didn't own any slaves would only get one vote.
Now people who own wage slaves can dictate how they should vote if they want to keep their jobs.
Not much difference today, but the same types of people benefit.
+5 # mim 2012-10-27 19:06
As best I know, based on one Framer's account long after the fact, it was a compromise between the northern and southern states over representation in Congress. The southern states wanted slaves to be counted fully, because the more warm bodies are counted the more power you have in government. The northern states saw this as rank hypocrisy, because slaves were never considered human otherwise . So they compromised with three-fifths.
+5 # TeriPettit 2012-10-27 22:20
Not really. Every plantation owner still got just one vote.

The 3/5 rule was only used to allocate the number of seats per state in the House of Representatives and the number of electoral votes in the Electoral College. So the white (male) voters in slave states got proportionally more power in Congress and proportionally more weight in selecting a president, making it harder for Congress to pass laws against the interest of the slaveholding class as a whole. But someone with 500 slaves got no more representationa l oomph than someone with 2.
+3 # Tazio 2012-10-28 11:30
Thanks for the correction Teri. It's been a long time since I studied the basics and, in fact, if it weren't for modern Republicans, I would probably never have had to remember old Confederate voting tricks.
+44 # angelfish 2012-10-27 12:16
With ReTHUGlicans running the show, Democracy is going into the Crapper. Until Citizen's United is repealed and sanity returns to our Congress we are in for a Bumpy ride, that's why you should never, EVER vote ReTHUGlican! We MUST get the "undecideds" to SEE the damage of a Romney/Ryan Regime! UP Money, DOWN Humanity!
+35 # mim 2012-10-27 12:17
It's even worse than that. In These Times reports that Georgia Pacific employees have been warned against posting anything on social media that reflects badly on their employers - even on their own time, in their own homes.
+32 # in deo veritas 2012-10-27 13:54
There is certainly nothing good that could be posted about the Koches. They are nothing more than fascists like some by the same name in WWII in Germany. Boycott G-P products. It won't hurt them financially but it will give you a measure of self-respect. Boycotting is legal as you cannot (AS YET) be told what to buy.
+17 # Regina 2012-10-27 15:32
It just might get to them. One of their products is indispensable, but comes in many other brands: toilet paper. Boycott Northern and buy any other brand. If enough people did that the Koch Krew might just begin to wonder at the dip in their profits, and might even have to cut back on their Citizens United political money flood.
+22 # mim 2012-10-27 15:58
Here's a partial list, for starters:

Brawny and Mardi Gras paper towels
Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper
Dixie paper cups and plates
Vanity Fair paper plates and napkins
Hefty anything
Georgia Pacific computer paper
+9 # JanisL 2012-10-28 09:49
Don't patronize Gander Mountain. It's Koch's. Don't go to Dunkin Donuts, it's a Bain subsidiary; nor Staples, nor Sports Authority, nor Outback or their other brands (go to their website and find out!), nor Stainmaster, nor Teflon; nor Zee Napkins, Vanity Fair napkins; nor Insular Cups, nor Spectrum, nor Advantage, nor Image Plus nor Perfect Touch cups. DON'T GIVE YOUR MONEY TO THESE FASCISTS! No Sam's or Mal-wart; go to Costco instead; no Home Depot; no Olive Garden or Red Lobster---all big Repuke contributors!
+30 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-10-27 12:35
Yes, it is lucky, in a way, that we still have, in theory at least, a secret ballot. But the real legacy of the American experiment in representative democracy may be this:
Starting with the noble concept of 'one man, one vote,' where simple math would seem to predict the outcome of an election, ergo 100 voters of poor means would always outvote 1 voter of rich means; we have arrived at a situation where, in a good year, only 50% of eligible voters actually vote, and there is a new math, where 1 vote of a 'rich' man, counts for more than 100 votes of men of lesser means.
In addition, we have a system that disregards the will of the people by way of the vote of the populous, and instead gives the final decision to an archaic group called, illogically, a College.

To be honest, I don't get it! Well, I get it, but I don't want to 'get it.' I don't want to face the fact that the experiment is slowly going south; it is failing.

We as a nation have gotten so complacent that we accept all this BS just as long as we get to watch our favorite sit-com, cheer for our favorite sports team, own the latest electronic gizmo, and keep the lousy job, as long as we do as the boss tells us to do. Sounds a lot like the time of the Robber Barons who let the workers know that if they didn't come to work on Sunday, don't bother to come in on Monday!

I hope and hope that we are better than this. We deserve better than this.
+44 # Vardoz 2012-10-27 12:35
Citizens United opened a Pandora's box. The Supreme Court justices should be impeached- This is a national security issue. They have planted the seeds of our destruction!!!!
Let's do all we can to let our reps know CU should be amended.
-67 # 4merlib 2012-10-27 12:36
Bill forgot to mention Union bosses, cut out of the same cloth! I wonder if it's because THEIR politics are more to his liking.
+33 # Billy Bob 2012-10-27 13:59
When CEOs tell their employees who to vote for they're saying that if they don't THEY WILL FIRE THEM.

Unions AREN'T ALLOWED to get away with this. If they did tell people who to vote for, it wouldn't be because of any threat by the union itself, but, once again, about the threat of the CEOs.

If Obama wins and CEOs get mad about having to pay taxes for a change, they might just go ahead and fire a bunch of peasants to make a point.

If Twit wins and CEOs are happy about not having to pay taxes, they will ALSO be happy about the fact that Twit won't mind them cracking down on unions. In fact, Twit will crack down on unions as well.

The unions are telling people what's in their own best interests. The CEOs are telling people to shut the fuck up and do what their told if they know what's good for them.

Hardly "cut from the same cloth".

My guess is that the CEO's politics is more to your liking.
+32 # reiverpacific 2012-10-27 16:21
Quoting 4merlib:
Bill forgot to mention Union bosses, cut out of the same cloth! I wonder if it's because THEIR politics are more to his liking.

Quoting 4merlib:
Bill forgot to mention Union bosses, cut out of the same cloth! I wonder if it's because THEIR politics are more to his liking.

I've yet to hear of unions fucking with voting machines or purging voter rolls, or especially demanding to see who any particular member voted -they still and always have respected the alleged secret ballot -it's one of the things Unions are pledged to defend! So please provide some backup examples of your contentions, purty please. Names, incidences and source will do for a start.
Nobody has ever claimed that "Union Bosses" as you put it, have been pure and clean but these arrogant corporate want-it-all's many of whom should be doing long, hard time including Chase's CEO who claimed to be "Doing God's Work" in partially instigating and helping to screw up the global economy, -And there are plenty recorded examples of THAT if you want them. But I wonder if perhaps you don't want to because THEIR politics of Corporate statehood, trickle down economics and sponsored slavery are more to YOUR liking.
Love Citizens United do ya?
+42 # reiverpacific 2012-10-27 12:41
Hell it's been going on longer than just recently.
When I worked for a large Boise, Id-based international engineering, construction and mining company in 1979 early 80's, we all had a circular from the CEO stating in no uncertain terms that it was "Strongly suggested" we all vote for the "Candidate (Reagan) who was pro-business and anti-regulation".
I tore it up in full view of the floor I was working on, including the principals with the loud remark "so this is Corporate Democracy????".
Fortunately I was in a fairly strong, senior position and suffered no repercussions that I can remember.
Question; as the ballots are allegedly "Secret", how would anyone find out how a particular person voted? That's like a priest sharing a confession with the press.
OF COURSE, I forgot for a moment and 'scuse my naivety, this is how 21st Century America squanders it's high-tech abilities - plus the dicky machines are owned by Twit supporters and managed somehow by one of his spawn.
+10 # TeriPettit 2012-10-27 22:10
Re: "Question; as the ballots are allegedly "Secret", how would anyone find out how a particular person voted? That's like a priest sharing a confession with the press."

The employers are typically threatening that if their preferred candidate loses, the company will end up in such dire straits that they will have no choice except to make massive layoffs. It's designed to make employees feel that their livelihood is dependent upon a Republican win, regardless of their personal vote.
+32 # fixerguy 2012-10-27 12:59
I say to the Corporations (and the Congress) who are doing this: "Be VERY careful about taking anything from a man who has little to loose..."
+31 # fixerguy 2012-10-27 13:01
Also bear in mind that the ballots are still secret....I will vote AGAINST anyone who does not serve MY interests (esp. anyone who votes to remove Constitutional protections)
+42 # WolfTotem 2012-10-27 13:03
BIG MONEY is already close to ruling America, and most of the world. Oligarchy - the rule of the unimaginably wealthy few - is the cuckoo in democracy's nest.

If Romney wins, democracy will be ousted from the nest and bosses' political instructions will become the norm. Employment and so many of the things like healthcare that give ordinary folks a fingerhold on survival will become so precarious that they'll be willing to crawl to keep their jobs and few remaining benefits.

Hard to understand why any sane person who isn't a billionaire should vote for GOP. And if you're wealthy, it's even worse, you'll be laying up trouble for yourself and worse trouble for your kids.

But then, what makes anyone think today's America is sane? Would we REALLY be where we now stand if ours was a healthy, well balanced society?

Take from the bottom of a wall to build up the top and the wall will probably collapse. Any moron can see that.
+5 # jky1291 2012-10-28 14:37
Republicans are not insane to defeat President Obama because his policies failed. They are outraged that his policies prevented their 25% unemployment Depression that would enable them to buy up the rest of the country for 10 cents on the dollar. Don't believe me, believe the facts. Nearly every proposal to help those earning less than $250,000 per year has met nearly unanimous opposition from the Republicans, while nearly every Republican proposal would provide most of its benefits to the 1% only. They are more than perfectly willing to spend 4 - 6 billion dollars of price gouged consumers' money to buy this election for their puppet to reinstitute their failed policies, to insure the successful completion of their traitorous scheme. They have already extorted another $140 billion added to our national debt, with the extension of the 2003 Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 per year since the 2010 election, by coercing those that their policies put out of work with fraudulent lending practices, phony securities' ratings, and illegal foreclosures. Why would anyone believe that a 1%er, who does not believe in government, has any incentive to improve conditions for the 99% by being elected to govern? In a single election the Republicans are determined to undo the results of the American Revolution and the Civil War by reestablishing the MONARCHY OF WEALTH in order to ENSLAVE US ALL!!!
+14 # Lasereye 2012-10-27 14:15
These too-big-to-fail international corporations not only want to own us body and soul - they want control of our freedom to vote using their corporate propaganda and intimidation! Do you need more proof we live in a Corptocracy of the few to control and dominate the many? And it seems like the Fed’s funny-money machine is printing dollars for the too-big-to fails so they can buy- off and take control of the rest of our government’s Constitutional Republic - turning the rest of us into indentured serfs to do their bidding as slaves.
+28 # Peggy Winkel 2012-10-27 14:38
And if Romney (and his ilk) is elected (shudder, shudder and wretch) they will probably lose their jobs, the likelihood of having any clean water, decent food, education, etc.....It is a no win when dealing with those plutocrats. There may be scraps to fight over, but there is no way to win if they get their way.
+11 # Old Man 2012-10-27 14:57
Just plan old "Scum-Bags" plan and simple.
+20 # brenda 2012-10-27 14:59
I hope Obama wins by a landslide and I hope the Republican Congressmen and Senators are swept out of the house. And for those Republican politicans involved with election tampering are put in federal prison for their acts of treason along with the corrupt Republican electon employees share the same stint in jail.
+17 # GreenBee 2012-10-27 15:35
Well LET US use this to make a point and perhaps get Citizens United Overturned. let's find a progressive CEO who will then require his right wing pro lifers to do some campaigning for the pro Abortion folks and we'll soon see all these Right wingers complain big time about the unfairness of this!!! You saw how loudly and how quickly they screamed when their companies and churches were forced to cover contraception.
+2 # mim 2012-10-27 16:17
Three possibilities occur to me:

1. Fire them all and hire replacements, as Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers.

2. Fire any of them - the way to strike fear into people's hearts is to make the innocent suffer.

3. Fire anyone who seems like a loose cannon. You may want to check their social media use.

Please excuse the awkwardness of this post. I'm still learning to use this new smartphone.
+7 # fhunter 2012-10-27 16:53
"Welcome to Plutocracy" The day after inauguration, Obama should have started to fight against the development of PLUTOCRACY. He had the means to do it by his parlamentary majority and by the very week status of the PLUTOCRATS in 2009. He missed his chance and we shall suffer for it for generations.
+15 # fredboy 2012-10-27 17:39
The tragedy is since the economic meltdown many managers have treated employees like dirt. Threats and other abuse are widespread. No surprise when we read about employees "going postal" on management.
+6 # freeportguy 2012-10-27 18:38
"This plant kills people... Where is Bob, the cola mine owner?"

That's Romney for you!
+3 # John Steinsvold 2012-10-27 19:30
An Alternative to Capitalism (since we cannot legislate morality)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."~ Albert Einstein
+15 # Kathymoi 2012-10-27 20:10
This looks like something we (our elected representatives ) should be outlawing. This is feudal.
+4 # Rick Levy 2012-10-27 20:52
There's absolutely nothing wrong with Mitt's suggestion to employers. After all, every employee has a right to send a memo to his/ her boss on how to vote and why it might jeopardize the workers' welfare and cause mass resignations if management votes for Romney.
+3 # mim 2012-10-27 21:07
As best I know, based on one Framer's account long after the fact, it was a compromise between the northern and southern states over representation in Congress. The southern states wanted slaves to be counted fully, because the more warm bodies are counted the more power you have in government. The northern states saw this as rank hypocrisy, because slaves were never considered human otherwise . So they compromised with three-fifths.

Don't know how this got reposted. I edited out a word included by mistake and here I am.
+5 # mim 2012-10-28 06:12
This is why we must be VERY CAREFUL how we get accountability from our new electronic. voting machines. It's been suggested that every voter get a receipt stating how he or she voted. Very bad idea! The boss could make you hand in that receipt as a condition of continued employment. Then good-bye, secret ballot.
+6 # Corvette-Bob 2012-10-28 09:26
Hey the money and power people are attacking the average worker on all fronts. The average power bastards do not know what to do but to vote to protect their jobs even if they are undermining thier own lives and families. They hear it at work and go home and hear the tv tell them how to vote to help the powerful and rich or they will pay the price. The Republicans put up a vulture capitalist who is intent on screwing them and they still vote for him.
+9 # futhark 2012-10-28 09:27
Isn't this a kind of blackmail and ought it not be treated as a felony? "Your vote or your job!" What kind of democracy is that?
-2 # holisticpsych 2012-10-30 12:29
Unfortunately, if they have to pay more taxes, the employers don't have that money to pay employees. It is simple economics not blackmail, not politics but reality. Employers can't print money like our employees in DC can.
0 # vilstef 2012-11-01 17:30
Quoting futhark:
Isn't this a kind of blackmail and ought it not be treated as a felony? "Your vote or your job!" What kind of democracy is that?

It's not a democracy-it's a feudal oligarchy pretending to be a republic.
0 # dbashaggy 2012-10-29 18:33
Isn't this why we have the right to own firearms?
-3 # holisticpsych 2012-10-30 12:27
I'm actually much more worried about employees whose politics interfere with every aspect of my life-such as elected officials like Pelosi and Reid shoving government-cont rolled health down the throats of people who do not want it. Yes we need reform but most politicians couldn't run a lemonade stand at a profit. Now they are going to control what doctor I can or can not see and whether or not I get treatment. Now that is troublesome!
0 # vilstef 2012-11-01 17:28
I've been saying we're in a Gilded Age since the first Reagan administration. It has only become worse since then.

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