NAPLES — A Southwest Florida executive is the second high-profile Florida entrepreneur in recent weeks to send an email to employees suggesting his company will fall on hard times if President Barack Obama is re-elected in November.
Arthur Allen, president and CEO of Naples-based ASG Software Solutions, told employees in an email that the "sick global economy has been negatively influencing ASG since December 2008."
"No one would have ever dreamed that the U.S. economy would still be sick four years later, but it is," Allen wrote in the email. "We have a chance, as individuals, to help turn the sick U.S. economy into a healthy economy, and positively influence the global economy as well. This chance comes on November 6th, when we elect a new president and administration."
ASG, which provides software solutions to businesses, employs about 1,300 people worldwide.
Natalie Hahn O'Flaherty, a spokeswoman for the company, on Monday confirmed Allen sent the email and, in a statement, said he "was expressing his belief that without a change in the administration this election season, businesses such as ASG Software Solutions would continue to struggle under the poor economic conditions."
The company statement went on to say Allen "was not threatening employees with any type of retribution" in the email.
"Like many businesses that have struggled over the past four years, Arthur Allen is looking at how to best maintain the health of his company," O'Flaherty said in the statement.
"In a private, internal communication, he expressed what many other CEOs have already publicly said: the future direction of our country directly impacts decisions made by the business community, and in the case of ASG, its ability to remain an independent company."
Allen in the email said voting for a new administration — presumably Republican candidate Mitt Romney, though it was not explicitly stated in the email — would give the company "one more chance to stay independent." Allen also warned that if the company were to lose its independence and get consolidated, employees could lose their jobs.
It's that statement that is worrisome to Heather Vogel, president of the HR Florida State Council. Vogel said Allen wasn't breaking the law by sending an email to employees, but he was teetering on touchy territory.
"It's really sticky when it comes to politics," she said. "He's not breaking a law, but he's walking a very, very fine line."
Vogel said while emails like Allen's aren't common, employees should contact their human resource manager if they feel threatened for any reason. Vogel said these types of situations could put a company at risk of a lawsuit, especially if an owner decides to shut down a business because of politics.
Allen is the second Florida businessman to send an email to employees suggesting the economic climate would be better if Romney is elected.
David Siegel, founder of Westgate Resorts in Orlando, sent an email to his staff earlier this month that said he might have to lay off employees if Obama is re-elected. Siegel's company employs about 3,200 people.
Siegel said the letter wasn't intended to tell his employees how to vote.
Siegel's letter was similar to the one sent by Allen, and Siegel told the Orlando Sentinel he strongly encouraged employees to vote for George W. Bush in 2000.
Siegel hasn't contributed to the Romney campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, a nonprofit organization that analyzes and tracks political contributions. Allen, on the other hand, gave $2,500 to Romney's campaign on July 20, according to the website.
__ The Associated Press contributed to this report.