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For a rich example of unbridled boss power in today’s political process, harken back to August when Mitt Romney appeared on a stage with a group of Ohio coal miners behind him. “I tell ya,” the clueless candidate cheerfully exclaimed, “You’ve got a great boss.”
That would be Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, who’d previously held a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Romney. But if Mitt had just turned around and seen the scowls on the faces of the Murray miners, he would’ve had a clue that they didn’t quite share his enthusiasm for their “great boss.”
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One reason is that they hadn’t volunteered to be there, but had been directed by Bossman Bob to attend. Also, Bob was docking them a day’s pay for “taking the day off” to be stage props for Mitt’s campaign. In effect, they were compelled to donate to the Republican.
Such involuntary support is routine for this corporation’s salaried employees, who’ve been hit up again and again for donations to Romney and other designated candidates. Murray himself sends dunning letters to employees’ homes, specifying to each one how much to give, and instructing them to send their checks directly to corporate headquarters. Staffers there maintain a list of those who did as told – and those who didn’t. “If you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake,” one employee bluntly explained.
Indeed, Murray deploys his lieutenants to squeeze the laggards – as the boss put it in one letter to them last year: “Please see that our salaried employees ‘step up,’ for their own sakes.” And, in another letter this March, he even named names of those he considered shirkers. “I do not recall ever seeing the attached list of employees… at one of our fund-raisers,” he said pointedly.
After Romney’s “great boss” statement, he added that Murray “runs a great operation here.” Yeah – a political shake-down operation. It’s a new, 2012 version of old-time boss politics – sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
“Coal Miner’s Donor,” www.tnr.com, October 4, 2012.
“Romney tells miners ‘you’ve got a great boss.’ That boss made them lose pay to listen to Romney,” www.dailykos.com, August 28, 2012.
“Coal Workers Say Murray Energy ‘Coerces’ Them To Make GOP Donations: ‘If You Don’t Contribute, Your Job’s At Stake,'” www.thinkprogress.org, October 5, 2012.