opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
10 Feb 2016
How Corporate Bamboozlers Intend to Widen Inequality in America

The basic problem facing the corporate and political powers that want you and me to swallow their Trans-… Read More.

3 Feb 2016
What Really Poisoned the Water in Flint, Michigan

The mantra of every Koch-headed, right-wing politico is that government should be run like a business, always … Read More.

27 Jan 2016
Take the Movement to the White House

At a recent dinner with my work team, I was reminded that I had said I wanted to travel less for work this … Read More.

The Corporate Mad Dogs of Citizens United


As feared, our people's democratic authority has been dogged nearly to death by the hounds of money in this election go 'round, thanks to the Supreme Court's reckless decree in the now-infamous Citizens United case.

That rank political power play by five black-robed judicial partisans unleashed the Big Dogs of corporate money to bite democracy right in the butt this year, poisoning our elections with the venom of unlimited special-interest cash. But there's also been another, little-reported consequence of the malevolent Citizens United decision: It has unleashed mad-dog corporate bosses to tell employees how to vote.

Prior to that 2010 Court ruling, top executives were barred by federal law from using corporate funds to instruct, induce, intimidate or otherwise push workers to support particular candidates. No more, thanks to the five Supremes. Having been given a legal pass, bosses have openly and aggressively conscripted employees to be political troopers for corporate-backed candidates.

For example, CEO David Siegel of Westgate Resorts, a major peddler of time-share schemes, warned his 7,000-strong workforce against voting for Obama. To do so, he wrote in a letter to each of them, would "threaten your job." Obama, Siegel declared, planned to raise taxes on multimillionaires like him, which would give him "no choice but to reduce the size of this company."

Likewise, Dave Robertson, president of the Koch brothers' industrial empire, notified 30,000 workers that they would suffer assorted "ills" if they helped re-elect Obama. In case that message was too subtle, Robertson helpfully included a slate-card of Koch-approved candidates for them to take into the polling booth.

Of course, corporate chieftains say they're not making threats — just suggestions. As Boss Siegel disingenuously put it: "There's no way I can pressure anybody. I'm not in the voting booth with them."

But, of course, he can see (or be told by watchful managers) if any employee dares to sport an Obama campaign button, bumper sticker or lawn sign. And he can find out if any rebellious worker has gone to a Democratic Party event, volunteered in the wrong campaign or made a donation to Obama (now there's a chilling irony — under Citizens United, Siegel can secretly shovel a million bucks or more straight out of the corporate treasury into an anti-Obama campaign group, but a regular person's $200 donation has to be disclosed for all to see, including the boss).

So, sure, this is America, where we're all equal as citizens — you, me and the Fortune 500. And don't forget that you're perfectly free to defy the guy who can fire you for whatever reason he makes up — or for no reason at all. Good luck with that.

For a rich example of unbridled boss power in today's political process, harken back to August, when Mitt Romney appeared on a stage with a group of Ohio coal miners arrayed behind him. "I tell ya," the clueless candidate cheerfully exclaimed, "you've got a great boss."

That would be Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, who'd previously held a $1.7 million fundraiser for Romney. But if Mitt had just turned around and seen the scowls on the soot-smeared faces of the Murray miners, he would've had a clue that they didn't quite share his enthusiasm for their "great boss."

One reason for their grumpiness is that they hadn't volunteered to be there, but had been directed by Bossman Bob to attend. Also, Bob was docking them a day's pay for "taking the day off" to serve as stage props for Mitt's campaign. In effect, they were compelled to donate to the Republican. That'll make you grouchy.

As uncovered in an investigative report by The New Republic, such involuntary support is routinely demanded from the salaried employees of Murray Energy. They get hit up again and again for donations to Romney and such other designated candidates as Sens. Rand Paul, Scott Brown, Jim DeMint, and David Vitter.

Murray himself sends dunning letters to employees' homes, specifying to each one how much to give and instructing them to send their checks directly to corporate headquarters. Staffers there maintain a list of those who did as told — and those who didn't. "If you don't contribute, your job's at stake," one employee bluntly explained. "There's a lot of coercion," he adds, "They will give you a call if you're not giving."

Indeed, Murray deploys his lieutenants to squeeze the laggards — as the boss put it in one letter to them last year: "Please see that our salaried employees 'step up,' for their own sakes." And, in another letter this March, he pointedly named names: "I do not recall ever seeing the attached list of employees ... at one of our fundraisers."

After Romney's "great boss" statement, he added that Murray "runs a great operation here." Yeah — a political shakedown operation by the 2012, court-sanctioned, corporate version of political bossism. If you needed another reason to support a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United, there it is.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... The decision in the Citizens United case was anything but reckless... It was infamous, the Dred Scott decision of our day which God willing, enough people will recognize so they can socially marginalize the Court where they belong... A court that is the lap dog of property owners, of the rich and their privilages -is nothing the people have to be concerned about... It may come some day to dragging them out by their heels and spanking their butts; but for now it is enough to recognize that these people have went too far and in the wrong direction...
The influence of money on politics was already exstreme, but for a long time in America, property rights settled every dispute with humanity, and that time has come again, where like it or not, the very force of the people much teach these lawyers the law...
It is nearly impossible for any individual no matter how just is his cause to reach the ears of his government... The inertia of government was built into it with the Court and with the Senate...These anti democratic forces have at times done all in their power to wreck the democracy, and have nearly succeeded... Add to that the inertia of parties as an extraconstitutional department of government free of restraint, and you an impediment instead of a government...
At a time when most people get no good out of their government, and certainly not enough to justify the taxes they pay, here comes the court making each individual with his vote even more insignificant... What does it matter if those able to buy government get the government they pay for???...The government the rich buy is no government the poor can endure... As long as government will survive by throwing enough sops at enough people, then good for them; but big money in elections makes that sop throwing entirely blind... What the people demand and need is responsive and good government, and every sop that misses its target is that much more proof that taxes are money down a rat hole...
I think the people need to see it... Just as with Dred Scott, the people need to see how much the Court does not reflect their morality or needs...We have this huge, expensive government eating on the toilet that can't get off its butt to wipe its butt doing exactly what it is paid to do which is nothing good...Politicians take money from the rich they cannot get elected without, and no one is held accountable for any amount of slander, and the people grow numb from the lies and constant antagonism...
Instead of insuring our rights, control of government becomes the means and method by which our rights are threatened... It may be true that property rights, and personal rights rest upon the same foundation of social respect and civility; but what this obcene use of wealth adds to the destruction of our political system is incalcuable... Where it does not buy irresponsible and unresponsive government, wealth buys incivility and distrust...
We used to say that where chaos was boss ironworkers made money... Our government is made a game of chance for the people... Step right up, pay your taxes and throw the dice and see if any good comes your way... The very conservative nature of American humanity will in time demand that they change their form of government... If they cannot count on the form delivering a tomorrow the people can live with, then what is the point of it??? What is the point of paying for goods and services never recieved???
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:01 AM
The Supreme Court held in Citizens United that it was unconstitutional to ban free speech through the limitation of independent communications by corporations, associations AND UNIONS, i.e. that corporations AND LABOR UNIONS may spend their own money to support or oppose political candidates through independent communications like television advertisements. [emphasis mine]. Since unions are pre-dominantly left, then that should balance out the "right-wing" corporations. Jim is so far left that the left looks right wing to him. Union contributions to the Obama campaign are way down. What happened? Have they seen the light?
Comment: #2
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:36 AM
Would you be comfy if the situation were reversed? If the corporations were able to give $1 for every $15 the unions gave? If the unions, but not so much the corporations, were able to strong arm their employees in the ugly ways that Jim has so well described above? Are you really okay with the sale of the American political system to the highest corporate interests?
If God still blesses America, the Citizens United decision will be overturned by constitutional amendment. Without such divine intervention, I fear for our future, as the corporations are not likely to allow such a roll back of their ownership of our government.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Mark
Thu Nov 1, 2012 11:07 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Jim Hightower
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Veronique de RugyUpdated 11 Feb 2016
Matt Towery
Matt ToweryUpdated 11 Feb 2016
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 11 Feb 2016

17 Jun 2009 Pockets of Influence in Washington

7 May 2008 Spending Your Stimulus Check

2 Apr 2013 Wall Street Hogs Still Running Wild