Support Mitt Romney or Lose Your Job? That’s Okay with the GOP

The steady decline of our democracy post-Citizens United has most often been explained by the rise of the Super PAC and unlimited corporate election spending, but a recent decision from the Federal Elections Commission suggests things could get even worse.

In August, the F.E.C. considered a case involving an employer in Hawaii that required its employers to campaign, on their own time, for Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Hanabusa. Interestingly, the Commission’s three Democrats believed such conduct violated the Federal Election Campaign Act, which forbids employers from coercing workers to contribute to a campaign.

But the three Republican commissioners didn’t. Instead, they argued that the work was part of an independent effort by the employer, and didn’t involve contributions to the campaign itself. Therefore, the law didn’t apply. A union or corporation’s “independent use of its paid workforce to campaign for a federal candidate post-Citizen’s United was not contemplated by Congress, and consequently, is not prohibited by either the Act or Commission regulation,” the Republican commissioners held.

That means that the three Republicans on the FEC believe, thanks to Citizens United, that a corporation or union can spend unlimited dollars in an independent effort to affect the outcome of an election AND use any other resources it has access to, including employees’ time while at work and away. That means workers can now be forced to show up at political rallies for candidates they do not support whenever their bosses say or face discipline and/or dismissal.

Mark Schmitt at The New Republic
sums it up perfectly.

Consider that the next time you hear an opponent of campaign finance laws describe the issue as a choice between “freedom” and regulation. In this vision of the world, the unlimited freedom of corporations means that your own rights as a citizen—to participate, or decline to participate, in the political process on your own terms—are surrendered. As the scholar Corey Robin has argued, the greatest threats to our individual liberties come not from anything the federal or state government does, but from these constraints large and small imposed by private-sector employers on their employees. (I emphasize private-sector, because it would be plainly illegal for any public agency to require non-political employees to participate in campaign activities, under state and federal civil service laws, and the same is true of non-profit charities, under tax law.)

As Schmitt points out, most employers are “at-will,” meaning employees have few, if any, avenues available to resist calls to campaign for candidates they may or may not support, on their own time. So this is not really a debate about “freedom” and “liberty” as much as it’s a debate about the concentration of wealth and the power associated with it. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

Related Stories:

President Obama Backs Constitutional Amendment To Undo Citizens United

Senate Republicans Fight For Dirty Elections

Cracks In GOP Base Over Campaign Finance Reform

Photo from Donkey Hotey via flickr.


Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

The decision was based on a Republican premise that an employer has the right to control an employees spare time, what s/he does with it, and an added impingement of intrusion into and over-riding individual employee's political/moral decisions - in other words, an assumption that an employer has a right of exerting control over an employee's LIFE.

Slavery is not legal.

Michael MacDonald

that is totally anti-democratic

who you vote for is an individual choice.
no one has the right to force you to vote for who they want you to.

I would fight this if I were put in that position.

A precedent really needs to be set against this sort of thing.

It's repackaged electoral fraud.

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

Also, how the heck does Citizen's United allow employers to control their workers TIME OFF without pay?

How can this allow corporations a literal slaver's rights over the public's free time, for anyone who might happen to work for them - or will this be stretched to include the gang-pressing of passers-by for any little task some CEO wants done?

Hell, I'd be campaigning for the other guy the whole time, if I was sold up the river in economic chains in that manner, and forced to work for some fat cat's political purposes.

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

American workers lazy?

How about tired? Maybe of being treated like serfs who have long worked more hours and had less vacation time than those in almost any other industrialized rich country?


Note the position of economic powerhouse Germany in the next two lists.

Average hours worked per year:

Japan 2,173
United States 1,890
Sweden 1,808
United Kingdom 1,771
Netherlands 1,756
Finland 1,744
Norway 1,725
Denmark 1,699
Germany 1,668

Average paid vacation per year:

Finland 35.0 days
Germany 30.0
France 25.5
Denmark 25.0
Sweden 25.0
United Kingdom 25.0
Netherlands 24.0
Switzerland 22.0
Norway 21.0
United States 12.0 ...

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

(This also forms chilling proof that American big business CEOs will indeed stoop to slavery to make a few extra bucks for themselves, if they gain a position of power over people - actually, with a 1st step indicated in this article, regarding employers forcing people into political campaigning on their own time, yet...)

Please sign?

Operation Freedom Gone Wrong

Update: On September 25, President Obama announced an Executive Order to crack down on government contractors that have been accused of human trafficking. The executive order is a major step toward preventing human trafficking by contractors, but it doesn’t go far enough.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act would do more to hold contractors accountable for human rights abuses - sign the petition and urge Congress to pass the bill now.


U.S. government contractors have made billions from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now, several are being investigated for slave labor.

Vinnie Tuivaga, a hairdresser from Fiji, was one of the many victims who fell into the trap of modern slavery. Recruited to work in a luxury hotel in Dubai, instead she was trafficked to a military base in Iraq. She was forced to live in a shipping container, paid only a fraction of what was promised, and was unable to leave.

Meanwhile, the contractors kept the difference, lining their pockets with the taxes of ordin

Charli S.
Charlotte S5 years ago

My personal time is worth money so if I'm forced to campaign for a candidate I don't want to support they are stealing money from me. Maybe we need to make the laws so simple that Idiots can understand them, The people who came out in support of allowing employers to force people to do things on their own time need to be taken out of office

If they employer was making someone build a house for them on their own time this would not be OK so why is allowing an employer to steal a persons private time OK when it's for political campaigns. The ACLU needs to take this to court.

Joan M.
Joan Maurer5 years ago

I am sad that most people went on a partisan rant when posting. Admittedly the title of the article aided them. The point of the article is that post Citizen United the average worker's rights to political discourse has been abridge by corporate rights.

Many of us work for companies that do not share our political views and the idea that they can force us, as a condition of employment, to work on political campaigns that we do not believe in is antithetical to democracy. To be forced to do so on what should be personal time, even if paid, seems a violation of their rights. The coal miners who were forced to attend a Romney rally were not paid for their time. Even if they had not attended the rally which was "mandatory" they wold have lost wages as the mine was closed for the event.
Like the writer, I find that very troubling.

Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

Anyone making the claim that ALL Democrat/Liberals are lazy is totally wrong. I know many "brain-washed" (LOL) Democrats who are great contributors to society, intelligent, hard-working, compassionate, etc. as well as many Republicans who would take whatever they could get away with mooching off someone else. It's not political affiliation, its personal substance.

It isn't the political party that makes us who we are, or the respect we deserve. In many cases we all want the same things from life, for society, as personal values, etc. It is the media that hypes the contrasts to the extreme... and from both sides.

They tell us about crazy extremist radical Republicans and lazy mooching Democrats and generalize the whole of each with the same brush. But we know better as we know great people on both sides of the fence.

IMHO... the primary difference to accomplishing the same basic goals is in the methodology. Republicans like to stress the personal nature of achievement and responsibility, while the Democrat platform stresses more of a collectivism of effort, more need for DC controls to manage things.

To me that IS the biggest debate we have this election... which direction do we want to go in this country, personal freedoms and responsibilities or more DC control of our lives and our economy... a redistribution of monies in a fixed pie, from those "based upon ability, to those based upon need," rather than the belief of an infinite pie that can grow to acco

James Holland
Elizabeth Keenan5 years ago

Watch for the trolls and the true right wing believers to get more and more desperate, and more insistent on attacking the messenger, when the message is one they do not want to hear. Today's headlines should bring them out in force.

Unfortunately for them their arguments lack both facts and merit.

Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

This article has NOTHING to do with Romney... and if you notice, the only case cited was for a Democratic candidate.

Look. laws are laws. We vote for the people who make them, then WE have to live with them. It happens all the time, legislators write laws we don't particularly like, and the only way to change them is to elect different ones and press upon them the need to change the law.

Unions have an advantage with forced dues. I have a hard time believing very many companies would "force" their employees to campaign on their behalf. They do get paid for it, so at least it isn't free labor... that WOULD BE illegal, and if an employee refused, I would find it hard to believe they could legitimately fire people for that.

Jessica, once again, takes a mostly nothing story, twists its content to reflect badly on Romney when it had NOTHING to do with him. Typical for her though... ANYTHING FOR THE CAUSE, to heck with integrity, we have an election to win.

Once again, for Jessica, the ends justify the means. Not very respectable for most who cherish integrity over cause.