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John Romano: Employer who told workers they'd go if Obama wins is just a misunderstood kinda guy

Times are hard, lifestyles are at risk.

Why, just the other day, the owner of one the most successful timeshare corporations in the world had to break the news to his employees via email that he might lay them off or even shut down the entire business if Barack Obama is re-elected.

Not that he was trying to intimidate employees or influencing votes, mind you.

No sir, David Siegel was just being helpful.

That's the kind of guy Siegel is. He's also the kind of guy who cribbed large portions of the email he sent to the employees of Westgate Resorts.

The Orlando billionaire admitted to Gawker that much of his message about threatening the livelihoods of his employees was taken from another email from an anonymous CEO that circulated before the 2008 election.

Still, Siegel stands behind his (mostly borrowed) words.

So here are some snippets of his email, along with some context to understand where Siegel is coming from.

"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.''

This must have come as a shock to Westgate's employees. Especially the accountants.

Because, as of six weeks ago, Siegel claimed the company was thriving.

"Westgate today is more profitable than at any time in our 30-year history,'' he told the Orlando Sentinel in August.

"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.''

Absolutely true. Siegel is no different from any other working stiff. Any other working stiff on the Forbes 400 list, that is.

Siegel said as much in 2008 when he was ordered by a jury to pay more than $5 million to a former employee who had filed a sexual harassment suit.

"Those people were not my peers,'' Siegel told an Orlando TV station. "I mean, they should have had Bill Gates here if they want to have a jury of my peers.''

"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 … ''

Why would anyone think that?

Doesn't every new home have 10 kitchens, a bowling alley, an ice skating rink, two movie theatres, two tennis courts, a baseball field, a video arcade and a 20-car garage?

"Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company.''

Every dime not earmarked for the $20 million mortgage on that new home.

"Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see is the true story of the hard work …''

Fair enough. Here's one accomplishment Siegel brags about on camera:

"I got George W. Bush elected president.''

And how did you do that?

"I'd rather not say. It may not necessarily have been legal.''

"While the media wants to tell you to believe the '1 percenters'' are bad, I'm telling you they are not.''

No, of course not. In fact, according to what Siegel told the Sentinel in February, he's what we all aspire to be.

"We're the 1 percent, and the 99 percent hate us or are jealous or whatever.''

John Romano: Employer who told workers they'd go if Obama wins is just a misunderstood kinda guy 10/11/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 8:15am]
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