David Siegel, the founder and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, sent an email to all 7,000 of his employees stating if President Obama is re-elected, Siegel will begin laying off his workers.
According to a Gawker report, the October 8, 2012 email stated: "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.
However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees. They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. They 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. However, what you don't see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved."
Siegel goes on to tell his employees how he started the company 45 years ago, how he used to drive a used car and how he was "married to his business". He continues by saying "When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week."
Siegel also talks about Obama's plans to do away with some tax breaks that will most likely increase the amount of taxes Siegel and anyone making over $250,000 a year are required to pay.
Siegel wraps up his email by saying: "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?"
When interviewed by Buinessweek, Siegel did not deny sending the email, nor did he deny the contents of the email printed in the Gawker report. He did acknowledge that the email may have upset or offended some of his employees, but stated: "I’ve always looked out for their best interests. We’re like a family. They’re like my children, and I’m the Jewish mother telling them to eat their spinach and vote for Romney. I’m not trying to intimidate anyone. First, I couldn’t do it if I wanted to. I won’t know who they vote for."
He also told WKMG he was not trying to intimidate his employees even if some of them took it as a threat or a form of intimidation. He went on to say that the worst part of the last 4 years was laying off 5,000 employees in 2009.
In 2007 Seigel was reported to have an estimated net worth of between $1 billion and $1.8 billion. In 2008, things began to change. A Bloomberg Businessweek report states that for 17 years prior to 2008, Westgate had taken all its mortgages, bundled them together, and sold them in a securitization. They would pay off their lenders and start over again, which, according to Siegel, was "a crucial part of the business model." In October 2008, Westgate had a $300 million securitization that didn’t sell. The company could not pay off the lenders and had already maxed out their credit, leaving Siegel and his company $1.2 billion in debt.
David Siegel's 90,00 square foot home he calls Versailles
What Siegel does not say is that his financial difficulty and the massive economic downturn occurred while George W. Bush was in office, nearly five months prior to Obama's inauguration. He also does not mention that during this time he was finishing the construction of his planned 90,000 square foot home he and his wife call Versailles.
This month, Siegel's Westgate Resorts was ranked 31 out of the top 50 private companies in Florida. He told Inside Williamsburg"The company is more profitable now, on a margin basis, than at any time in our 30-year history. I am pleased to report that we are on track for an even better year in 2012."