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.


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If my work was pressuring me to vote, then I would vote… Except it would be the opposite of whoever or whatever they were telling me to vote for. But that’s just me.

How exactly does card check work? Does that mean union members no longer have a private ballott? Can people see how they voted?

jeffn21 on November 2, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Mysterious black sedan outside each polling place.

Limerick on November 2, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Angus when I see a line like this: “waking up to a defeat of harry reid on Nov.3…” That sounds like pressure to me..

However, that was in an email to other casino execs. So far there has been no suggestion that they pressured workers how to vote. It may be that Batjer expects casino employees to overwhelmingly vote for Reid. In other words, there’s got to be more evidence of pressure how to vote, not just to vote, in order for this to be illegal.

AngusMc on November 2, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Marybel Batjer of Harrah’s was formerly the ‘cabinet secretary’ for Schwarzenegger, senior aide to Casper Weinberger, Chief of staff to the Governor of Nevada. In other words, she is a typical member of the elite republican ruling class, and she is behaving exactly as one might expect.

Hazard on November 2, 2010 at 3:20 PM

How does this benefit Harrah’s? I can understand how hapless union workers would want a Dem in office, but the casino itself?

Buy Danish on November 2, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Are you serious? How do you think the casinos got into Nevada in the first place, if not by buying politicians?

This behavior has a long and fetid history in the annals of Nevada.

warbaby on November 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Meh. That’s why voting is by secret ballot.

At least for now.

Cicero43 on November 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Not really. In many voting locations, if those managing the precinct are friendly to the greedy union boss, they will allow him to hang around and if he has good eyes he can see which buttons are being pushed. When I voted today (Georgia) I suspect the people running the location knew I voted straight-R.

‘Secret ballot’ is a compromise between keeping your vote secret and having enough privacy to fiddle with the voting machine.

slickwillie2001 on November 2, 2010 at 3:33 PM

I have tried to call Harrahs and keep getting the run around. The one number they gave me is 702 407 6000 and I asked for tom jenkin. However, I get a recording for a gal and so I left a message, if this is the truth, and I pass through las vegas many times a year on my way to CA, I will never stay at that hotel. I’ll see if they call back.

Bambi on November 2, 2010 at 3:41 PM

If someone has a better contact #, please let me know. Besides, how do they know who voted already? Is that legal?

Bambi on November 2, 2010 at 3:42 PM

I have tried to call Harrahs and keep getting the run around. The one number they gave me is 702 407 6000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 702 407 6000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting and I asked for tom jenkin. However, I get a recording for a gal and so I left a message, if this is the truth, and I pass through las vegas many times a year on my way to CA, I will never stay at that hotel. I’ll see if they call back.

Bambi on November 2, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Harra’s owns about 1/4 of the casinos in Las Vegas. MGM owns about 1/3. And if you notice in the email they say how great MGM has been about getting their employees out to vote.

They’re all the same. It’s Las Vegas and Harry Reid. Corrupt politician in a corrupt city run by corrupt executives in a corrupt industry.

angryed on November 2, 2010 at 4:01 PM

I liked Paris too. Actually my family discovered the Palazzo the last time we were there and totally fell in love with it. Spend money there and the Wynn from now on.

gophergirl on November 2, 2010 at 1:49 PM

I’ll see ya @ Wynn :-)

huskerdiva on November 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Per Fox: Reid’s spokesperson has denied knowledge of the Harrah’s emails, but says because Reid has done such a good job for business in Nevada, it’s ‘no surprise’ that casino employees would want to vote for him. Ha.

LASue on November 2, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Harrah’s is going to lose a lot of business.

zoyclem on November 2, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Harrah’s is going to lose a lot of business.

zoyclem on November 2, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Most likely not. This will never make the mass media news and will only be found on right leaning blogs.

Besides, regular routine gambling is a form of addiction. Nothing like this will ever get between gambling addicts and their favorite place to lose their children’s higher education funds, their retirement savings, and their house payments.

FlatFoot on November 2, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Try the Venetian – I heard they were the only major casino with non-union employees, and the best pay/benefits package in the city. Curious how that works.

Their management was an early backer of Angle, I understand.

Can anyone confirm??

fred5678 on November 2, 2010 at 4:57 PM

I bet they did. Odds are I’m right, too.

Knott Buyinit on November 2, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Jan Jones testified in the Ted Binion murder trial that she visited Binion’s home the day he died to pick up a $40,000 CASH “campaign contribution”

Ed on November 2, 2010 at 6:03 PM

How does this benefit Harrah’s? I can understand how hapless union workers would want a Dem in office, but the casino itself?

They can urge you to vote, they can’t tell how to vote.
Kini on November 2, 2010 at 1:32 PM

They can stand over their shoulders while poll workers look the other way.

Buy Danish on November 2, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Consider their support as graft for protection. It’s what the Dems do, they are a threat to business and businesses pay them for protection.

Dems and unions are no different that organized crime aka, the mob.

Jvette on November 2, 2010 at 7:49 PM

How does this benefit Harrah’s? I can understand how hapless union workers would want a Dem in office, but the casino itself?

They can urge you to vote, they can’t tell how to vote.
Kini on November 2, 2010 at 1:32 PM

They can stand over their shoulders while poll workers look the other way.

Buy Danish on November 2, 2010 at 2:41 PM

From the article: “The stepped-up effort began Wednesday when a Reid staffer sent an email pleading for help to Harrah’s top lobbyist, Jan Jones.”

That’s Harrah’s lobbyist, not the union’s. The message is, if you want your lobbyist to get anywhere in Washington, get to work for Dingy.

slickwillie2001 on November 2, 2010 at 8:40 PM

This reminds me of the righteous indignation on the left over the McDonald’s owner in Canton, Ohio inserting a slip in his employees’ pay checks telling them that his business will be able to keep its employees and benefits if they vote for Kasich, Portman, and Jim Renacci. Of course, he didn’t bus them to the polls and pester them about whether they voted.

Link: http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/ohio-mcdonalds-get-voting-instructions-thei

flataffect on November 2, 2010 at 8:44 PM

Just canceled my reservations at Paris for the NAB in April. I also canceled my reservations at Caesars Palace for a trip with my wife during the Christmas Holiday.

I have moved my reservations to the Wynn for the NAB and Encore for the Holidays. The woman laughed when I told her why I was moving my reservations. She said it was the 10th call she had taken tonight from people whop were mad at Harrahs and MGM, which practically owns half of the strip properties. The Venetian and Palazzo is owned by the Sands.

Atlanta Media Guy on November 3, 2010 at 1:56 AM

Wish Sharron had some of the money I sent her left over. She should mount a serious investigation into voting irregularities in this state of mob rule (albeit sophisticated) and dirty, dingy, lousy, lying Harry Ried who would stop at NOTHING to win. It made me ill moments ago to see one of his subsequent election speeches….it is stinking business as usual. NOTHING has changed. This guy cheated and robbed and stole to stay in office. Sharron, get the lawhers on it and don’t stop. Maybe too late but many laws were broken and we can get him with that. Work It Sharron!!!!!! You worked hard and you deserve it. Go after the guy.

highninside on November 3, 2010 at 4:25 PM

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