Romney Ohio Oct 2012 (2)
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Reuters

In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports of business leaders telling their employees to vote for Mitt Romney, suggesting their company – and their jobs – will be on the line if they do not cast their ballot for the Republican presidential nominee.

But it looks like those instructions may have come from none other than the Romney campaign itself.

In a June 6 conference call with the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Business, Romney instructed employers to tell their workers how to vote in the upcoming election. A recording of the conference call, which was picked up by the Chicago-based magazine In These Times late Wednesday, allegedly features Romney addressing a self-described group of small-business owners.

“I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees,” Romney said 26 minutes into the call, after making his case for why President Barack Obama’s first term has been bad for business.

Romney also told his audience that it is perfectly legal for them to tell their employees which candidate they believe will be the best for their business, “because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.”

Apparently, that’s actually true. According to University of Marquette law professor Paul Secunda, in the post-Citizens united era there is no significant political protection for at-will employees in the private sector.

"It is conceivable, under the current legal regime, that an employer like Koch could actually get away with forcing his employees, on pains of termination, to campaign for a given candidate or political party,” Secunda told In These Times.

Here’s the audio of the entire call: