Nearly all the allegations of voter intimidation flying around have been directed at Republican official or conservative activists. But now it looks like businesses, too, are pushing their will on voters. A McDonald’s franchise in Ohio was accused of intimidation after telling its employees that their raises and benefits would go down unless they voted for Republicans. “If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels. If others are elected we will not,” the employer wrote in a handbill enclosed in a recent paycheck envelope. Who are “the right people”? According to the handbill, they are gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, Senate candidate Rob Portman, and Jim Renacci for House Rep. in Ohio’s 16th District.
Allen Schulman, an Ohio lawyer who submitted the handbill to local prosecutors, accused McDonald’s of violating election law. “When a corporation like McDonald’s intimidates its employees into voting in a specific way, it violates both state and federal elections law,” Schulman said in a statement. He goes on to characterize the handbill as “the logical extension of the Citizens United decision, which unleashed corporate arrogance and abuse.” The handbill has no direct connection to the Supreme Court decision, which liberated corporate campaign ad spending. But the store’s conduct suggests that business are also convinced that the stakes are higher in a polarized political environment—and are willing to push the envelope to see the outcomes that they want.