Politics & Policy

Harrah’s Bosses Put Squeeze on Employees to Vote in Pro-Reid Effort

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.

Download the full email chain as a PDF here.

The Reid campaign staffer, whose name was removed in the email Batjer sent to Harrah’s executives, said “ANYTHING” would be done to help with the company’s get out the vote effort. The staffer cited the fact that 1,100 MGM employees had already voted and indicated dissatisfaction with the turnout from Harrah’s.

The staffer told Jones, senior vice president of communications and government relations, that 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.”

The staffer also offered Senator Reid’s personal involvement, writing, “PLEASE… PLEASE tell me how I can help. Would it help to have the Senator call Gary and help give you the backing you need?”

In her email to management, Harrah’s Batjer requested of her colleagues to “PLEASE do whatever we need” to communicate to company supervisors that there is “NOTHING more important than to get employees out to vote.”

She even issued an express endorsement. “Waking up to the defeat of Harry Reid Nov. 3 will be devastating for our industry’s future,” Batjer wrote.

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.”

“It put me in a very awkward position,” the employee added, saying the level of coordination between Harrah’s upper management, the culinary union, and the Reid campaign was “disgusting.”

Calls to Harrah’s management were not immediately returned. Jan Jones’ assistant said at 10:25 EST that she would attempt to track down an executive who could comment.

A spokesman with the Federal Election Commission declined to comment on the case, but encourages anyone who feels that an election-law violation has occurred to file a complaint with the commission. 

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