Blog PostMarch 15, 2013

A Disturbing Pattern of Intimidation

Five Guys Franchisee the Latest Victim

The Raleigh News and Observer today reported on a disturbing pattern: small business leaders who talk about the problems they are having with Obamacare are being bullied into sitting down and shutting up:

Mike Ruffer, a Raleigh-area local restauranteur, is getting support from business leaders, after he came under fire for his concerns about how the Health Care Act would effect his businesses.

Ruffer, who owns eight Five Guys and Burgers and Fries franchises in North Carolina, said on Monday that the new health care law was hurting his business and forcing him to cancel expansion plans and raise burger prices. He made his remarks during a Heritage Foundation panel discussion.

After his comments were published on the Internet, calls from supporters were made to Five Guys headquarters, and the company began distancing themselves from Ruffer’s comments, according to the the group Job Creators Alliance, which announced their support for Ruffer.

While Mr. Ruffer was buried in backlash, Organizing for Action (OFA) was hosting its first big conference in Washington. The new non-profit was once President Barack Obama’s campaign organization. Attendees at the OFA summit were excited about applying campaign techniques to support the President’s domestic agenda.

Campaign techniques like telephone banking, email campaigns and media spin, perhaps? That sure sounds like what happened to Mr. Ruffer. And Denny’s. And Darden Restaurants. And Applebees. And the list is growing longer.

If the President’s campaign has decided to focus its pressure tactics on small business owners, the White House has turned a very disturbing corner.