Officials in the Democratic Party in Ohio are calling on officials to investigate the owner of McDonald's restaurants in the state over what they say is an attempt to "intimidate" employees into voting Republican.
Employees at as many as 12 McDonald's restaurants received a letter with their most recent paycheck urging them to vote for Republican candidates, or else future paychecks would be in jeopardy.
"If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels," said the letter, as quoted at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "If others are elected, we will not."
The letter was written on McDonald's stationery and included a pamphlet promoting Ohio Republican candidates John Kasich (for governor), Rob Portman (for Senate) and Jim Renacci, who's running for a House seat.
Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern has asked county and federal prosecutors to investigate the letter, AP reports.
“It’s clear intimidation,” said Allen Schulman, a Canton city councilman linked to the Democratic Party.
The New York Times reports:
Mr. Schulman, who is a lawyer, said that distribution of the pamphlet — which was printed on a McDonald’s letterhead — violates a 1953 Ohio statute that prohibits political material from being attached to wage envelopes. He declined to comment on how he got a copy, or who gave it to him, but said it was distributed to employees within the past week.
He said he had forwarded a copy to the authorities in Canton, requesting that they investigate.
The owner of the franchises, Paul Siegfried, sent out a note Friday apologizing for the incident. His lawyer told the Akron Beacon Journal that Siegfried was unaware his actions may have violated the law.
''He was trying to protect his business and meant no harm or interference,'' the lawyer said.
Parent company McDonald's USA sought to distance itself from Siegfried's letter and said it had no knowledge of Siegfried's plans.
"The content of this material is not reflective of McDonalds' position," said a statement from the general manager of McDonald's Ohio Region. "We remain bipartisan on these matters. That said, while clearly this was poor judgment, we don't believe it was intended to offend anyone."
Here is the full text of Siegfried's letter, as quoted at the Canton Repository.
As the election season is here we wanted you to know which candidates will help our business grow in the future. As you know, the better our business does it enables us to invest in our people and our restaurants. 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.
As always who you vote for is completely your personal decision and many factors go into your decision.
The following candidates are the ones we believe will help our business move forward.
John Kasich for Governor
Rob Portman for Senate
Jim Renacci for Congress