Did Harrah’s pressure employees into voting for Harry Reid?
posted at 1:20 pm on November 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Elizabeth Crum at NRO’s Battle ’10 has internal e-mails from Harrah’s, a major casino chain in Nevada, showing that management has been pressuring its employees to vote for Harry Reid in the Senate race. The e-mails show that supervisors had to account for their staff turnout in early voting, demanding updates and explanations for non-performance. A staffer on the Reid campaign offered to coordinate with the culinary union to provide buses to push employees to the polls:
Executives at the casino giant Harrah’s pushed company employees to vote early in an all-out effort to help the Harry Reid campaign, according to internal emails obtained by Battle ‘10.
The stepped-up effort began Wednesday when a Reid staffer sent an email pleading for help to Harrah’s top lobbyist, Jan Jones. Soon after, Marybel Batjer, Harrah’s vice president of public policy and communications, distributed that plea via email to executives throughout the company.
Nevada is certainly a place that knows about calling in markers. Harrah’s responded with dictates on voting performance:
On Friday, Western Regional President Tom Jenkin sent out a follow-up email showing a total vote count for Harrah’s properties along with the percentages of employees who had voted at each property. Attached to the email was a spreadsheet showing employee names and at which property they worked. Supervisors were asked to fill in codes explaining why their employees had not yet voted.
The Harrah’s employee who forwarded the emails asked not to be identified due to fear of reprisal. The employee said the pressure from upper management was “disturbing.”
“We were asked to talk to people individually to find out why they had not yet voted and to fill in these spreadsheets explaining why,” the employee said. “I did not feel comfortable doing that.”
Honestly, this sounds a lot like the United Way campaigns at my places of employment in the 1980s and 1990s. Only after employees began to rebel did my employer stop tasking managers with pressuring their staffs to commit to contributions. The hardball tactics left a bad taste in the mouths of many — and that had nothing to do with the very-private right of voting.
I’m not sure whether this level of coordination is illegal either, but it certainly looks suspicious:
The staffer told Jones the Reid campaign had “connected with Culinary” and that the problem was with mid-level supervisors. “They simply are not cooperating with and listening to upper management,” wrote the staffer.
The Reid staffer then indicated that the culinary union had money available for more busses to take Harrah’s employees to the polls. The Reid staffer suggests that Harrah’s execs “put a headlock on your supervisors to get them to follow through.”
Aren’t unions supposed to be “outside groups” in terms of political involvement? Outside groups are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns, at least for advertising, and one would presume for GOTV, either.
At any rate, the expressed urgency of their lobbyist protect Harry Reid to the point of strongarming employees should tell Nevadans all they need to know about why Harry Reid needs to be defeated at the polls today.
Update: Brian Faughnan at Liberty Central notes that Jones used to work in “senior positions” with the DNC in Nevada.