Updated: At a campaign event in Miami on Tuesday that was more in keeping with the norms of politics in North Korea, Donald Trump brought reporters to one of his golf courses and invited 10 of his employees on stage to praise him.
"I'm a Latino and I support this man because he deserves it," one employee says. "And I didn't tell him to say that!" Trump jokes.— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) October 25, 2016
Before the first speaker took the stage, Trump joked that “this guy better say good, or I’ll say, ‘You’re fired!'”
The man, a Latino, then prefaced his remarks by saying that he was proud to work at Trump’s property “even though I have many issues with my family because I’ve been supporting this man here.” As he left the stage, Trump told reporters, “and I promise you we didn’t set this up at all.”
Having previously been duped into giving live air time to Trump events that were more about promoting his properties than the election, cable news channels declined to broadcast the event in full, with even Fox News cutting away from the string of testimonials from people the candidate pays.
The staged endorsements came the same day that Democratic activists shared a copy of what appeared to be an “election memo” sent to thousands of people who work for America’s largest private time-share developer, David Siegel, in which he urged employees to vote for Trump.
Siegel’s company, Westgate Resorts, has not yet replied to a request to confirm the authenticity of the memo, but the developer sent a very similar memo to employees in 2012, warning them that there might be layoffs if President Obama was reelected.
Siegel also boasted about helping to secure Florida for George W. Bush in 2000, by pressing thousands of employees to vote for the Republican candidate. In an interview with the same publication, the developer explained that he gave employees not-so-subtle hints about what he wanted them to do by putting negative articles about Al Gore in envelopes along with their paychecks.
As The Atlantic explained in 2012, after Siegel’s anti-Obama memo was leaked to Gawker, employers cannot explicitly pay workers to vote a certain way, but, in most states, they are permitted to make their preferences known before election day.
Unlike Florida, California does have a law stating that “no employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.”