MSNBC has discovered two CEO’s who have told their employees that if they don’t vote for Mitt Romney—if the Republican isn’t elected—their jobs are at risk. I’m sure there are others like them; probably many others. They are all unethical, and seriously so.
In some jurisdictions what they are doing is illegal, but illegal or not, it is wrong. Nobody with power over others, be they bosses, parents, ministers, teachers, military officers or police officers, should attempt to use that power to influence individual political choices. To do so is coercive, unfair, an offense to personal autonomy and the rights of citizenship, an abuse of power and an abuse of position.
Chris Hayes, who has publicized the efforts of Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions, and David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts to influence the votes of his employees, opined that their efforts were inappropriate and felt “fundamentally coercive.” Exactly. The CEOs have power over their employees’ welfare, and such appeals come with an implied threat.
Telling someone how to vote is presumptuous. Telling someone how to vote when you have authority over him is unethical.
UPDATE: Think Progress has found yet another leaked audio of Mitt Romney talking to supporters, this time to what the progressive website calls the “very conservative” National Federation of Independent Business. I guess when your that far left, almost anything looks “very conservative,” but the NFIB is just a business association, and not especially conservative. Romney, in addressing the excutives, urged them to do essentially what Allen and Siegel did:
“I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope — I hope you pass those along to your employees. 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.”
Mitt’s exhorting them to abuse their power. His advice is unethical.
Graphic: Ars Technica