Koch Letter Aims To Swing Employees' Votes

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Koch Industries has created quite a buzz with a recent letter it sent to all company employees across the country.

The Wichita-based company has roughly 50,000 employees. Some of those employees say the letter verges on threatening if they don't vote for Mitt Romney.

They always say politics are best left out of the workplace, but apparently not if you're one of the largest private companies in the country. Koch Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson sent the letter out on Oct. 1. It warns of "consequences" if the Republicans lose.

"I would not take this letter and say that the Kochs are trying to buy their employee's votes or threaten their employees," said Friends University Policitical Science Professor Russell Fox. "You don't have to go that far."

Fox compares what the Kochs have done to him teaching his opinion in class, but not allowing the students to express theirs.

"On one level, it's just information sharing or an act of persuasion," Fox explained. "But on another level, it's 'We want you to know what the boss thinks. This is the position of the boss and you don't have to attach any kind of intimidation to that.'"

Click here for the letter in it's entirety. Quoting one part, it says "While we typically are told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election eill determine what kind of America future generations will inherit. If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.

"It's not hard to understand that this is a message that is aimed against our current president," Fox said. "This is a message that's aimed against the Democratic party."

The mailers also included a list of candidates the Koch's support, which is vastly Republican.

"Would I say the Kochs are doing something criminal here? Of course not," Fox explained. "Would I say the Kochs are doing something unethical? I might be closer to making that point."

The Kochs and their communications team declined to go on camera with me today, but they did say that this letter isn't anything new. They sent a similar letter out in 2010 and they say they aren't endorsing anyone and call the notion that they're coercing employees or threatening layoffs patently false.

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