Intimidation – or When Your Company IS "The Party"

This story in today’s Washington Post, GOP Activists Chafe at H&R Block Hire, says a lot more than you think it does:

“Republican activists were chattering and e-mailing one another yesterday about H&R Block — and it wasn’t about getting their taxes done.

They were angry that the tax and financial services preparation company had recently hired Nicholas J. Spaeth, a Democrat, as the company’s senior vice president and chief legal officer. Spaeth, based at the company’s headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is responsible for overseeing ‘the functions of the company’s business units’ as well as its government relations activities.

[. . .] Adding insult to injury, said one GOP activist, is the fact that H&R Block’s main in-house lobbyist in Washington is Robert Weinberger, who is a member of the board of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money and is considered hostile by Republicans.

“They run a Democratic shop. They’re insulting to Republicans. They don’t understand Republicans,” said Grover Norquist, one of the forces behind the K Street Project.

“We looked at skills in doing the job, not in the points of view,” she said.

She noted that the company’s political action committee contributions for the 2001-2002 campaign cycle and for 2003 were split 50-50 between Republican and Democratic candidates. She also said Sarah Wilson, a legislative assistant in the Washington office, worked for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The company’s even-handed PAC contributions did not impress Norquist.

“That is so 1984. So they have no interest in legislation in this town?” Norquist said. “That is so lazy.”

Here we have Republicans publicly complaining that H&R Block has hired a Democrat as a VP, clearly trying to intimidate the company into firing this person and hiring a Republican instead, and threatening legislative consequences. What is between the lines in the story is what this says about all the other companies. If the Republicans feel free to openly complain because one company hired a Democrat as an executive, it means that they are used to companies being “on board” with the “game plan,” “on the same page” and “reading from the same playbook” (attempt at speaking corporatese…) — in other words, they expect companies to only hire Republicans as executives.

It seems that more and more there is a very thin line between a company and The Party (part 1, part 2)