Bill Looman, at home in Haralson County, Georgia, November 22, 2011
WACO, Ga. -- A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company's trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates:
"New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone."
"Can't afford it," explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. "I've got people that I want to hire now, but I just can't afford it. And I don't foresee that I'll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C."
Looman's company is U.S. Cranes, LLC. He said he put up the signs, and first posted pictures of the signs on his personal Facebook page, six months ago, and he said he received mostly positive reaction from people, "about 20-to-one positive."
But for some reason, one of the photos went viral on the Internet on Monday.
And the reaction has been so intense, pro and con, he's had to have his phones disconnected because of the non-stop calls, and he's had to temporarily shut down his company's website because of all the traffic crashing the system.
Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive's Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it's that he doesn't believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama administration.
"The way the economy's running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn't be able to do any hiring," he said.
Looman did receive some unexpected attention not long after he put up his signs and Facebook photos. He said someone, and he thinks he knows who it was, reported him to the FBI as a threat to national security. He said the accusation filtered its way through the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and finally the Secret Service. Agents interviewed him.
"The Secret Service left here, they were in a good mood and laughing," Looman said. "I got the feeling they thought it was kind of ridiculous, and a waste of their time."
So Bill Looman is keeping the signs up, and the photos up -- stirring up a lot of debate.
"I just spent 10 years in the Marine Corps protecting the rights of people... the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment and the [rest of the] Bill of Rights," he said. "Lord knows they're calling me at 2 in the morning, all night long, and voicing their opinion. And I respect their right to do that. I'm getting a reaction, a lot of it's negative, now. But a lot of people are waking up."