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UPDATED: Westgate honcho David Siegel’s damaging employee email blast about the politics of firing people

October 9, 2012
By

Yesterday, we received the following missive from an acquaintance who works for scary millionaire David Siegel’s Westgate Resorts empire. We gnashed our teeth over its brazen horribleness for a little while and were in the process of verifying (we actually received another tip with the same email today) whether or not Mr. Siegel – who most recently came to notoriety via a “hit” indie film about his and his wife’s sad architectural dream, The Queen of Versailles – was possibly the worst employer alive. “Well, that’s entirely possible, considering what a winner he appears to be when you simply Google his name,” we thought aloud. Anyway, Gawker went ahead and ran with the story today with the headline “The CEO Who Built Himself America’s Largest House Just Threatened to Fire His Employees if Obama’s Elected” before quickly adding an update that, hey, maybe this whole email-gate thing is a scam. Why? Because the same thing happened in 2008 and was disproven by meme-killjoys at Snopes.com. While the current version and the Snopes version aren’t exactly alike, the nods to palm trees and firing everyone in both are pretty apparent. So, did Siegel decide to use the Snopes prank letter as a form letter for his own feelings (he is just that bright, right?), or was this whole thing a sham. Any Westgate employees out there care to verify either of our theories? You can read the current one down there and click on this Snopes link to read the 2008 iteration.

To All My Valued Employees,

As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.

However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees. They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. They label us the “1%” and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life. However, what you don’t see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved.

I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. We didn’t eat in fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations because every dollar I made went back into this company. I drove an old used car, and often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, many of my friends got regular jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a nice income, and they spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into this business —with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford to buy whatever I wanted. Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company. Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.

Just think about this – most of you arrive at work in the morning and leave that afternoon and the rest of your time is yours to do as you please. But not me- there is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I’m the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed. Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don’t pay enough. We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes. I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes. The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not, or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?

Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country. The fact is, if I deducted 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, that’s what happens to me.

Here is what most people don’t understand and the press and our Government has chosen to ignore – to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Instead of raising my taxes and depositing that money into the Washington black-hole, let me spend it on growing the company, hire more employees, and generate substantial economic growth. My employees will enjoy the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But that is not what our current Government wants you to believe. They want you to believe that it somehow makes sense to take more from those who create wealth and give it to those who do not, and somehow our economy will improve. They don’t want you to know that the “1%”, as they like to label us, pay more than 31% of all the taxes in this country. Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Constitution, once said, “democracy” will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.

So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

Signed, your boss,

 

UPDATE: Gawker has updated its post to note that Siegel confirmed that he did indeed send the above letter to his employees – he just modified the version that was on Snopes.com to suit his needs. Our contact who works at Westgate tells us that Siegel has promoted political candidates to his employees in previous elections, and he also likes to send out emails saying that  he’s selling “AKC registered American Eskimo puppies for $750 each, which he offers payroll deduction for.” Har dee har har. That Siegel is a funny guy

UPDATE NO. 2: Edward Ericson Jr., a former reporter for Orlando Weekly, just blogged about the Siegel debacle in our sister paper, Baltimore City Paper. Ericson recounts Siegel’s rise to fortune as such

Siegel tells his story of suc­cess, found­ing the com­pany 42 years ago and dri­ving an old car, work­ing hard from his garage while his neigh­bors worked 40 hours and “spent every dime they earned.” It’s an inspir­ing story. It con­trasts, how­ever, with the story he told me and Jeff Bill­man in his office in the sum­mer of 1999 as he tried (erro­neously, it turned out) to evict the ten­ant in his $22,000-per-month house. That was quite an inter­view, and the link is still live.

Siegel, 1999, recall­ing the rent-to-own store he opened in the early ‘60s in Miami:

“Soon Siegel had a store in Lib­erty City and a fleet of Volk­swagon vans. His sales­men offered the refur­bished sets to the area’s African-American res­i­dents for $10 down and $5 a week, he says, adding, ‘I only had about $10 in each one.’

Those $5 pay­ments soon financed three stores, a gas sta­tion, a house with a pool and a Buick con­vert­ible. ‘My goal was to make $125 a week,’ Siegel says. ‘I usu­ally exceeded that.’”

To be fair, he didn’t say whether the Buick con­vert­ible was new.

Shock­ingly, Siegel’s store got burned down in the riots and he ended up in Cen­tral Florida sell­ing swamp land to gullible “investors.” He quickly went on his own and in a few years (if his 1999 rec­ol­lec­tion is to be believed) made mil­lions on those unde­vel­opable acres, mostly by tout­ing their prox­im­ity to Dis­ney World–but also by draw­ing up bogus devel­op­ment plans and occa­sion­ally clear­ing a dirt road. He sold to peo­ple in New Jer­sey, Mex­ico, and as far away as Bel­gium. State reg­u­la­tors and the fed­eral Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment came after him, but he lawyered-up and stared them down. Most of the buy­ers of his prop­er­ties (includ­ing the young man who would go on to become musi­cal direc­tor of Glo­ria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine) had lit­tle or noth­ing to show 20 years later.

 

 

 

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  • DavidSeigel Sucks as a human

    Typical billionaire dooshbag. People deserve health insurance and I pay more in a tax rate than this asshole…..and thats suposed to be fiar>>this dickwad wants to keep people poor and without decent benefits Phuck him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5208277 Chris Whittaker

    This is my letter to him (if I could get an e-mail address). Since I am no longer in the hospitality industry and have no intention on going back. I have nothing to lose. People like David Siegel need to realize that 1) Orlando is a small town and 2) even the guy driving the delivery truck might be paying attention to you.

    Dear Mr. Siegel:

    As a former hospitality worker in the Orlando area that worked
    closely with your organization and other timeshare companies dealing
    with the recruitment of customers to these businesses, don’t blame the
    President for overextending yourself in Vegas, overbuilding during the
    bubble years, having 8 kids with this wife, wanting to build the
    American Versailles because a 26,000 square foot home on the Butler
    Chain of Lakes was just too damn small, or for impregnating your former
    wife, leading to a 8 figure divorce settlement and the enhancement of
    your Orlando area competition. I’m sure that Hilton, Marriott, Starwood,
    and about 6 other Timeshare companies will love to buy you out, since
    otherwise, you won’t be able to pay back all your loans, since, unlike
    the people that went Galt, you created nothing of value, just used high
    pressure sales tactics and the promise of cheap Disney tickets and a
    free breakfast to sell overprices timeshares at exorbitant interest
    rates to people whose minds were distracted by being on vacation.
    When customers are perpetually stressed about their jobs and cannot
    afford to purchase timeshares (especially at 18% interest from your
    in-house financing arm) or even to pay the perpetually increasing
    maintenance fee, or if your existing customers come to the realization
    that there is no practical resale value for their properties (based on
    the number of timeshares you can find listed by Century 20, TSBO (or
    whatever they are called this year), or any one of the other timeshare
    resale companies), this should be of real concern to you, since if
    people cannot purchase or make payments on your product, your portfolio
    suffers, unlike if you have to pay the same tax rate you had to in 1997,
    when CFI and Westgate was making money hand over fist.
    Sincerely

    A former Universal Orlando Employee

  • The Truth

    People DESERVE healthcare?? So the jackass stuffing big macs down his throat, drinking a gallon of booze, smoking marlboros is the dude that deserves healthcare? How about a little responsibility? Provide your own damn healthcare. What else do you think people deserve? New car? New home? you are EXACTLY what has ruined this country….you want everyone else to pay for what you want…..you are a lazy irresponsible piece of debris.

    Don’t really care about Seigel but its HIS company and he is right….Obama and friends have started the income redistribution revolution……its time to stop it. VOTE ROMNEY

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1250246183 Patrick Thatcher

    very well said Mr. Siegel, i admire your hard work, dedication &
    persistence to build your company and create opportunity for many others
    to make money working for you. Democrats political philosophy is
    socialism to marxism, they are not trying to fix the economy, they are
    trying to destroy our existing system completely to force a marxist
    utpoia. This is no secret, the deny it publicly but proclaim it amongst
    their own, its in their writings, teachings and their manifesto. This
    has been their strategy for decades and the progressive/marxist are
    closer than ever, frothing at the mouth(the media is their campaign
    machine/superpacs), those who vote for democrats are either
    card-carrying communist or very ignorant and do not have a clue what the
    end-game/political philosophy of the party is. God bless you David!

  • nc2879

    Obama 2012 Baby !!!

  • name

    Nobody is saying they deserve free health care, just access to health insurance. (which currently only wants healthy people to buy it)

    And by the way, we’re paying for that smoker boozer’s health care irregardless, except we’ll be paying 10 times as much when he goes to the ER.

  • Geneva Ayte

    You deserve nothing but an opportunity to procure life insurance. I’ll bet you don’t even know your tax rate. STFU

  • mr. 99

    wow rich guys are really smart he’ll sell make more dough ps It must be his good looks that got that trophy .it looks like a kidnapping

  • Douche

    David Siegel got busted cheating on his first wife with the Gold-digging whore on his lap-and all the folks that worked for him lost their annual raises etc. when his wife filed for divorce- so his employees paid for that ass. Any hospitality people remember King Henry’s feast on I Drive? David SeaGull had a private party there and had his employees change the sign to say “King DAVID’S Feast” – as a former employee for this kook- we were all told NO overtime ever- but were expected to complete projects at a certain time, so when we needed to put in some extra time on jobs to meet a deadline, we were “offered” Mystery Fun House gift certificates in place of overtime money. And this was all during boom economies, He’s a twerp, and an elitist. He’ll be dead soon and his heirs will be making the news fighting over his ill gotten money with that sour pussed crow on his lap.

  • douche

    Central Florida Investments used to be the parent company of West Gate Resort- don’t know if it still is, but when we got our insurance Packages for working there, they said CFI care. And the management all thought it was funny that our crappy insurance was known as that.

  • reelectObama66

    You’re an idiot Mr Siegel. Talk about a jerk, you top the heap and believe me it’s a heap of crap. Just for that Ihope Obama does get re elected and you wind up in big trouble. Welcome to America, the land of the free. You are mean and very low quality.

  • seriously pissed off

    what an absolute douchebag. Yeh and with his cunt of a trophy wife. I hope you get testicular cancer you p.o.s. I’ll never set foot on one of your resorts or patronize any business you are part of. he wants things to go back to the bush years where tools like him just got richer off the backs of real americans.

  • Blazerfan

    Geneva Ayte, you’re an ass

  • timetrvlr

    His hard work, sacrifice, scams, frauds and privilege after accounting privilege that enables him to keep adding to his resorts but he fails to understand that under Romney he will keep more but he will make a heck of a lot less! Those pesky brain-deads that bought into scams will have nothing for his future endeavors because it will all be going to increased taxes!

  • Blazerfan

    The Truth??? That’s an oxymoron, you have no clue, you are just spewing the conservative sound bites from FOX(fake)News. If you make less than 250K a year, and you vote for Romney/Lyin Ryan you are votint to increase your taxes. You like to talk like you are an expert, but you probably haven’t even taken a look at Ryan’s budget plan, the plan that will have Romney and folks like David Seigel pay less taxes when they cut capital gains, interest and dividends taxes, AND eliminate the largest tax deduction of the middle class, the home mortgage interest deduction. Vote Romney and eliminate the middle class, you’re an idiot!!!

  • Blazerfan

    wow, someone with a sane comment

  • Blazerfan

    You are right. Why is Sheldon Adelson, owner of The Sands Casino Corp, (and being investigated for money laundering, and Chinese Bribery) and Romney’s largest donor, backing Romney, when he made $22 Billion the last 4 years? Because under Romneys tax cuts for the rich he will make even more, what a greedy bastard, just like David Siegel.

  • Blazerfan

    You are incredibly stupid and watch too much FOX(fake)News. If you make less than 250K (the K stands for thousands) and vote for romney you are voting to increase your taxes, FACT. Google Lyin Ryan’s budget plan, which Mitt will be using most of, and see how Mitt’s tax rate will go to less than 1%, with cuts to capital gains, interest, and dividends, while the middle class rate will go up, with the elimination of the largest middle class deduction, the home mortgage interest deduction. Why won’t Mitt give us more details about his plans? Is it because the middle class would not vote for him and he would not win? Seriously do some research and see how Mitt is going to make the middle class pay more. And by research I don’t mean watch more FOX(fake)News, or listen to that bloated drug addled Rush Dimbaugh.

  • Mel

    Some should start a boycott of his properties

  • Mike B

    He is seriously just stating things the way they are… if you folks don’t like it, tough…

  • John Lewis

    I can’t sit by and hear this – something must be done. He is an absolute idiot. I will boycott anything to do with him. May he enjoy HELL!

  • david

    just cause u were born with a silver spoon up ur ass dont mean everybody else was u idiot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rubenndavid Rubes Orlando

    Hey Westgate Employees, this one is for you. Your boss and his infused botox wife forgot to tell you something. They made a threat to you, and you can do something about that. Meanwhile, I must say the jobs report is looking good, and thanks to our president you can move to an unbiased employer after this election because jobs are out there. Good jobs! Your boss is a republican. They try to say they are “CHRISTIAN”. Christian to me is Godlike, and they are the furthest from that. The fact is, whether Obama wins, or Romney wins your job is disposible. Vote foe the guy that has your back so you have a chance to collect unemployment if it should happen. This is critical. Dont be scared.

  • hey

    whatchyou h8ers h8in fo? dis man iz a pimp in a pimps paradise,ya seen? flesh is fo sale and the alphas got the peachy ass flesh my god. get wit it. if you gettin money, you gettin it. dont yall bump dat jayz brooklyn hipster gotham devil love?? oh, i forgot, only on eye2nes. yo, git ova it. dis man gettin his, you broke suckas hatin. all you pretty full sail hipster bitches know you would suck his duck for a chance at a private jet and gucci sunglasses wit dat louis bag in paris ripped stella denim ohhh dammm, gurrrrl!!! you a hottie in dat shit!! yessss….. blessed…..eat a dick. you fuckers are all bent over money whores. you can lick my rich ass balls! i got your high fashion and zombie chic! suck a dick! you know you wanna! peace…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/nasoniam Nasonia Mitchell

    Mr. Siegel is basically bullying his employees into voting for the candidate of his personal preference. How interesting that, when the recession by Republican and former President Bush didn’t prompt any emails. To intentionally threaten layoffs to innocent people, the real mechanism of his wealth, shows no integrity. Having worked in the travel industry, which also is aware of his horrendous, outrageous, and sickening threats, he may regret his choice of words. As a matter-of-fact, I know of agencies who refuse to send their clients to his properties. Word will spread like wildfire and a domino effect just might ensue.

  • Big Daddy Coaltrain

    This bigoted self serving idiot needs a good cup of STFU and a reality check beatdown. Wonder how many moonpies that bastard has ever bought anyone? I know he has never tasted one, but he has sure bought a boatload of them. Ate a lot of green beans too. May he rot in his huge home to the point he is dust.

  • Big Daddy Coaltrain

    We are screwed with either OBUMMER or ROMNUTS. The damn system is broken and include the Congressional phonies that suck up and leech off the American society. We have lost as a country. The system is so damn old and corrupt and broken, that no matter WHO gets into office will not make a damn bit of difference. Whoever gets in, you all will be bitching about in four years again. Oh I forgot, WE DONT ELECT THE PRESIDENT! THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE DOES. Better than Moon over Paradore. This country’s political process sucks azz, and needs total rebuilding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skeetz1105 Keith Shannon

    David Siegel’s idea of living the American dream is through coercion and threatening to fire his employees if they vote a certain way. This sounds a little like the philosophy of Nazi Germany and not having the freedom of choice we should expect in the U.S.A.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skeetz1105 Keith Shannon

    The guy’s a nutjob

  • tjarman1

    There is nothing wrong with anything he said in this letter. Everyone should pay the exact same amount for taxes that go to public services. People who have worked hard to make a good living should not have to pay one cent more than anyone else.

  • Giving the Real McCoy

    The title should be – The Rise and Fall of A Devil – Its
    3:00 am edt and I’m up watching the Bravo reality show of David Siegel’s
    life and how his empire is diminishing. I would like to add that the whole time
    share resort business is nothing but a sham. I say this because if you think
    about it, you don’t own anything -If you were to ask someone who owns
    a timeshare they’ll say “oh yea a 2, 3-bedroom etc… they’ll
    describe the luxuries it has and amenities it offers and flaunt it like a piece
    of Real Estate – Really!

    They don’t own anything but a block of TIME and what they
    do is get talked into purchasing these packages by a high pressured salesperson
    and end up placing large down payments etc… they continue to finance and pay
    for a block of TIME that possibly 200 other people are paying for – There is no
    DEED or any type of ownership and you can’t really sell it! So when they re-sell
    that block of time over and over again it comes to a point that they are not
    able to book a decent vacation to the resort they initially signed up for and
    then have to trade off in “points” to possibly other undesirable
    resorts. And not to mention the monthly maintenance fees and other annual
    costs.

    His whole entire business is nothing but selling a dream
    that eventually families can’t use due to overbooking, financial changes, unemployment
    and the downfall of the economy. What you have done to hardworking people is coming back on you 360 degrees David Siegel, Karma is a bitch.

    I feel sorry for your children, your son made a comment
    when he had to fly in a regular plane he asked his mother “why are so many
    people on our plane.” Your children move about like an albatross, they have no concern in the world except for the latest toy and “what can you do for me – I want more – gimmie, gimmie, gimmie’ Throughout the entire show there were no hugs, no love.

    All he is talking about is getting more money to buy his Yacht and complete that monstrosity of a mansion and that giant skyscraper in Las Vegas. Like Vegas needs more hotels –
    give me a break!

    He doesn’t even have a personal relationship with his
    adult son. How douchbaggery can he be.

    He talks about all the money he’s made and how he puts it
    right back into the company, resorts etc… well if he would have possibly
    thought to fund a few college educations, give back a little, something to the less fortunate give more charity etc… Does
    he realize that what you give from your heart you get back in other ways – I guess
    devils don’t have an ounce of humility while clocking the dollars?

    His wife, OMG what a true trophy wife in action, David is
    constantly telling her not to spend more money and that they’re are living on a budget ($50,000 a month) wow
    what a budget, some people never see that until they’ve worked 2-years on a job,
    I’m sure their nannies would agree,

    In a way it’s good that
    this is happening to people like him, these people are greedy, think about
    themselves and how much money they can make off the sweat of others. Has he
    ever empowered any of his employees to become business owners has he ever
    asked what their hopes and dreams are and ever funded any of their
    projects or plans? I’m sure you know the answer to this question.

    I do have a lot more to say – what are your thoughts/comments……
    say. But what are your thoughts/opinions on this Douchbag!

  • MICHELLE

    WHAT WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? HE’S ABSOLUTLY RIGHT. BUNCH OF LAZY AMERICANS HOPING THE GOVERNMENT WILL PAY THEIR WAY. THE COUNTRY IS A MESS WITH THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION. HOWS IT WORKIN FOR YOU FOLKS? IDIOTS!!

  • michelle

    You’re incredibly ignorant..hope you get exactly what obama dishes out

  • michelle

    hahaha you mean land of the free? like where you suck off those who work and you get everything for free! its people like you who are ruining our country.

  • Patie

    This clown is a modern day snake oil salesman. Karma is a bitch and what comes around goes around.

  • lovingmama

    working out great for me, thanks!

  • http://profiles.google.com/acmemktg julius rosen

    Wish I had his luck and hard work ethic

  • http://profiles.google.com/acmemktg julius rosen

    If I quit my work -The government will give me a free phone , food , healthcare and housing. WHY WORK ????

  • Hindsight

    Well, given that he admitted in the documentary that he was the one who got Bush illegally elected, he kinda did this all to himself. Bush gave unlimted power to the lenders.
    But forget the business, the family became like objects.
    When his son told him that he loved him, he said, “Thank you.”
    He didn’t feel his wife supported him but was another child.
    His daughter said, “I hate him,” right on camera.
    It’s sad really.