In the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, David Siegel, billionaire chief of Florida timeshare company Westgate Resorts, sent an email to all employees. “Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for,” Siegel wrote, but offered “a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.” These included that re-electing Obama would “threaten your job” and result in “less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”
Just over two years after penning that company-wide email, Siegel informed Westgate employees that instead of layoffs, he would boost their minimum wage to $10 per hour beginning in 2015.
In fact, according to Siegel, 2014 was a banner year. “We’re experiencing the best year in our history and I wanted to do something to show my gratitude for the employees who make that possible,” Siegel said in announcing the wage hike. He also recently told the Orlando Business Journal that “things have never been better.”
Westgate currently employees about 12,000 people. Though the minimum wage increase won’t impact all workers, including those who receive tips, commissions, or work under a collective bargaining agreement, a company spokesman told Vegas Inc. that thousands of employees will receive a raise because of the move.
Despite writing in 2012 that any tax increases on the wealthy would mean job losses — “Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back,” he said at the time — Siegel has been extraordinarily successful growing Westgate in the two years since taxes were modestly increased on the wealthy. In 2014 alone, Siegel and Westgate bought a hotel in Las Vegas for $180 million, began constructing a new $11 million retail center in Orlando, and purchased the Cocoa Beach Pier. Siegel also acquired the Orlando Predators Arena Football team and continued constructing his 90,000 square-foot mansion, which will be the biggest in America once completed.
Of course, Siegel isn’t the only conservative to predict economic doom if Obama won re-election. Among others were Mitt Romney, who argued that unemployment would be stuck above eight percent, and Donald Trump, who foresaw a crash in the stock market. Since November 2012, the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent while the stock market has jumped 4,500 points to record highs.