The private timeshare mogul and Mitt Romney supporter who swore mass employee layoffs if President Barack Obama won reelection has had a change of heart.
Earlier this year, David Siegel, the founder of Central Florida Investments and Westgate Resorts, emailed a letter to his employees warning them to vote for Romney or else. However, after Obama won the election on Tuesday, instead of firing some of his 65,000 employees, Siegel decided to give them raises.
The anti-Obama Siegel opened up about his change of heart. "I’m going to work my hardest to keep the company going and expand the best I can," Siegel told Bloomberg Businessweek. "We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile I gave everybody in the company a raise this week—the average was 5 percent. I wanted to help them handle the additional burdens the government will put on them."
Siegel, whose 90,000-square-foot Florida "Versailles" mansion may be the biggest in America (once it's finished being built), insists he did not influence his employees to vote in any way.
"I didn’t do a thing," he told Businessweek. "I just wished employees luck. I didn’t do anything to encourage or discourage employees, to find out who their preference was. I had said enough. If they believed me, they knew what to do. If they didn’t believe me, they knew what to do."
Has your boss fired workers as a result of President Obama's reelection? Email Jillian.Berman@huffingtonpost.com and tell us about it.
"The economy doesn't currently pose a threat to your job," he wrote in the letter, obtained by Gawker. "What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can't tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn't interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose." Later adding, "If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company."
Siegel contacted Gawker and confirmed that he wrote the layoff letter and that it was based on a popular chain letter circulated around the time of the 2008 election.
The moneyed real estate mogul previously denied strong-arming his employees. “I wanted to inform my employees of what their future would hold if they make the wrong decision,” he said on CNBC. “I wasn’t threatening any of the employees. If they vote for Obama they’re not going to lose their jobs.”
In 2007, Siegel's net worth was calculated at $1 billion, according to Forbes. But he's not the only billionaire who expressed his anti-Obama sentiments before the November election.
Donald Trump, who has been a vocal Republican advocate since hinting at his own run for president, called for a "revolution" after Obama's reelection. Casino billionaire Steve Wynn also blasted Obama for instigating "class warfare" by "deprecating and calling a group that makes money 'billionaires and millionaires who don't pay their share.'"
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to "Donald Trump" as "David."
Earlier on HuffPost:
The Koch Brothers
The Koch Brothers are known for being outspoken supporters of right-wing politicians. They have <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer">donated millions of dollars</a> to Republican campaigns, and now they are trying to influence votes in a new way: by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/14/koch-romney-brothers-mitt_n_1965366.html">emailing 50,000 of their employees</a> urging them to vote for Romney.
Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegal recently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/david-siegel-email-intimidate_n_1957743.html">emailed his employees</a> saying that if Obama wins the election, he will be forced to downsize his company. Siegal insists this statement was <a href="http://www.clickorlando.com/news/David-Siegel-Anti-Obama-email-wasn-t-a-threat-to-employees/-/1637132/16929310/-/5jsbkyz/-/index.html">not a threat</a> and that no employee would be fired for voting for Obama, WKMG Local 6 reports. Pictured: Siegel's famously unfinished mansion.
Jack DeWitt, CEO of frozen food company Request Foods, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/jack-dewitt-mitt-romney_n_2017539.html?1351190686">endorsed Mitt Romney</a> and called President Obama a "complete failure" in his employee newsletter.
Scott Farmer, CEO of uniform manufacturer Cintas, recently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/cintas-ceo-scott-farmer-obamacare-email_n_2019292.html">sent an email</a> to his employees saying that if Obama wins the election they may lose their healthcare and even jobs, urging them to vote for Romney.
Brooks Smith, CEO of gift card purveyor Incomm, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/10/romney-fundraising-email-ceo-incomm-brooks-smith">recently forwarded</a> a Romney campaign fundraising email to his staff, Mother Jones reports.
Mike White, the CEO of Rite-Hite, a manufacturer of loading dock equipment, told his employees that they would suffer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/mike-white-ceo-email_n_2017372.html">"personal consequences</a>" if Obama is reelected.
Richard Lacks, CEO of car-parts manufacturer Lacks Enterprises, recently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/lacks-enterprises-ceo-richard-lacks-mitt-romney_n_1947737.html">encouraged his employees</a> to vote for Romney, saying that another Obama term would mean higher taxes and lower wages.
Robert Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Enterprises, not only <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/04/bob-murray-mitt-romney-miners_n_1940563.html">put pressure on his employees</a> to vote for Romney, but also forced them to give up a day's pay to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/murray-energy-romney_n_1950724.html">attend a Romney rally</a>. The Ohio Democratic Party is <a href="http://ohiodems.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Murray_Energy_Letter11.pdf">planning a criminal investigation.</a>
Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/20/arthur-allen_n_1992370.html">sent an email to employees</a> requesting that they donate to Romney's campaign, arguing that by doing so, his employees would be helping ASG and themselves.