WASHINGTON -- Billionaire Sheldon Adelson apparently isn't content to influence the presidential election through his multi-million dollar donations to conservative super PACs. It seems the casino mogul wants to see his workers vote his way, too.
Management at Las Vegas Sands Corp., Adelson's casino group, has been distributing voter guides friendly to Republican nominee Mitt Romney and critical of President Barack Obama to its casino employees in Las Vegas.
Billed as a Nevada "issues guide," the pamphlets claim to help workers "protect their jobs." They were produced by Job Creator Solutions, a group founded by former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus. Although the guides do not overtly endorse any candidate, they suggest that Obama's policies on energy, health care and taxes will hurt working people, while Romney's will lead to working-class prosperity.
A manager at Las Vegas Sands' Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts told HuffPost that supervisors were instructed to hand out the guides to all employees. The manager requested anonymity to avoid being disciplined.
Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese confirmed that the pamphlets were being distributed to employees, and argued that they were non-partisan and intended merely to inform voters.
"We view it as a voter's guide," Reese said, noting that Job Creators Solutions is not party-affiliated. "We've done voters' guides over several different elections."
Indeed, the manager that HuffPost spoke with said the company had distributed such literature in the past. But previous guides had actually been guides, the manager said.
"In the past they were balanced," the manager said in an email. "Now they are handing out pamphlets that are very one-sided ... towards the candidates they prefer, Republicans. Handing this out at work by your boss is very persuasive to voters and is very intimidating as you feel if you don't support what your company supports, you may lose your job."
In addition to the Venetian and Palazzo properties, Adelson's company owns a casino in Bethlehem, Pa. Reese said he assumed the Job Creator Solutions pamphlet was being handed out company-wide. According to the manager, there are roughly 8,500 employees at the two Las Vegas properties.
With Nevada being a battleground state, the votes of Adelson's casino workers are significant. Obama is holding a lead of about three percentage points in the state, according to HuffPost's latest poll tracking data. If Obama picks up both Nevada and Ohio, Romney would have to take North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire and Virginia to win.
The workplace handout puts Adelson in an expanding crop of business executives who apparently want to influence their employees' votes this election cycle. Among those who've sent workers pro-Romney or otherwise leading emails or pamphlets include Request Foods' Jack Dewitt; Cintas Corp.'s Scott Farmer; ASG Software Solution's Arthur Allen; Wynn Resorts' Steve Wynn; Westgate Resorts' David Siegel; and the Koch brothers.
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Although it may make many employees uncomfortable, such influence in the workplace isn't illegal. The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling broadened the political speech rights of corporations and labor unions, allowing employers to speechify on politics to their workers.
Romney, no doubt aware of these workplace rules, has suggested to small business owners that they share their thoughts on the election with employees.
"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," Romney said in a June conference call with the conservative National Federation of Independent Business. "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."
As HuffPost reported Thursday, Adelson has given more than $50 million this election, the largest disclosed amount from a single donor for an election cycle. He and his wife kicked in $10 million to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future during the first half of October alone. Adelson has publicly assailed Obama for "socialist" policies, but he recently admitted a more personal reason for his support of Romney over Obama.
Adelson's casino empire, most of which is based in China, is under investigation by U.S. authorities for bribery and money laundering. According to Politico's Mike Allen, "Adelson said a second Obama term would bring government 'vilification of people that were against him.' He thinks he would be at the top of that list and contends that he already has been targeted for his political activity."
Read the Las Vegas Sands employee voter guide:
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