It Sucks to Work for a Koch

In particular (via):

Billionaire William Koch imprisoned and interrogated one of his executives at a secluded Aspen ranch, under a sheriff’s guard, because the executive suspected Koch’s companies of tax evasion, the employee claims in Federal Court.

And in general (via):

Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan.-based company run by the billionaire Koch brothers, sent a voter information packet to 45,000 employees of its Georgia Pacific subsidiary earlier this month.

In it was a letter, dated Oct. 1, from Koch Industries president Dave Robertson implicitly warning that “many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences” of voting for President Obama and other Democrats in the 2012 elections, a list of conservative candidates the company’s political action committee endorses and a pair of editorials: one, by David Koch, supporting Mitt Romney, and the other, by Charles Koch, condemning Obama.

I wonder if the Kochs will even hire a registered Democrat.






70 replies
  1. 1
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Ah, the panicked whining of a tiny Koch is truly something to behold. Who knew that billionaire Kochs were so small and petty?

  2. 2
    Feudalism Now! says:

    Democrat? You mean socialist moocher eating away at the fabric of our glorious society. Someday we will be able to send these poison pills to the work camps to learn a little American work ethic. Uppity serfs need to know their place. We MotU control horizontal and the vertical. Step out of line and we will use the sheriff to ensure you learn your level.
    Also, vote for my pet or we will take away your livelihood. It’s not bribery or extortion, because we own you peasant!

  3. 3
    Punchy says:

    Im guessing anyone showing up to work in a VW Bug, or with O bumperstickers, or who insists on a vegan meal, is swiftly canned.

  4. 4
    over_educated says:

    I foresee this working splendidly. I’m sure a low level employee of a bunch of rich asshole billionaires would like nothing more than to vote for their preferred candidate.

  5. 5
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Koch is a private citizen. If he imprisons someone isn’t that known as “kidnapping”?

  6. 6
    gnomedad says:

    NPR interviews Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats:

    Freeland says she’s worried about what she calls an inevitable human temptation — that people who’ve benefited from a mobile society, like America, will get to the top and then rig the rules to benefit themselves.
    __
    “You don’t do this in a kind of chortling, smoking your cigar, conspiratorial thinking way,” she says. “You do it by persuading yourself that what is in your own personal self-interest is in the interests of everybody else. So you persuade yourself that, actually, government services, things like spending on education, which is what created that social mobility in the first place, need to be cut so that the deficit will shrink, so that your tax bill doesn’t go up.

  7. 7

    F*ck the pitchforks, this is another reason the 2nd Amendment is important.

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    Lifestyles

    As Gawker noted, Siegel and his wife were the subjects of “The Queen of Versailles,” a recent documentary “about their ongoing quest to build the largest house in America.”

    And

    Martensen and others were then invited by Mr. Koch to tour his Western town nearby – a collection of approximately 50 buildings designed to appear like an authentic late 19th century western town.

    And people living in trailers will vote for a dipshit who will cut the taxes of these assholes.

  9. 9
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Surprisingly, what the Koch Brothers did is protected speech. Learned that from “Up with Chris Hayes”. And apparently Harrah’s did something similar for Harry Reid. I would think that an employer practically threatening employees to vote a certain way would be a no no, but I’m wrong.

  10. 10
    owlbear1 says:

    Nothing screams louder, “We’d be dead broke grifters living in a Kansas City trailer park if we hadn’t be born rich”, now does it?

  11. 11
    Matt McIrvin says:

    “You don’t do this in a kind of chortling, smoking your cigar, conspiratorial thinking way,” she says.

    Actually, the evidence suggests that you kind of sometimes do.

  12. 12
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Mark S.:

    Martensen and others were then invited by Mr. Koch to tour his Western town nearby – a collection of approximately 50 buildings designed to appear like an authentic late 19th century western town.

    I saw that episode of Firefly. Kinda surprises me that someone managed to do it in the 21st Century, as opposed to the 26th.

  13. 13
    kc says:

    Imagine the shrieks from the right if a Dem boss had done that under Bush.

  14. 14
    amk says:

    frank rich is freaking out. the teabaggers are coming, the teabaggers are coming.

  15. 15
    Todd says:

    Martensen and others were then invited by Mr. Koch to tour his Western town nearby – a collection of approximately 50 buildings designed to appear like an authentic late 19th century western town.

    Clearly, lower taxes are needed so that further brilliant and economically stimulating uses of money may occur.

    I sob to think that monies diverted to taxes might deprive a Quickbooks program of positive ledger entries, a wingnut politician of a contribution, a mediocre think tank propagandist of a sinecure, or a few favored fawning supplicant tradesmen of useless vanity work.

  16. 16
    Howard Beale IV says:

    So now we have 4 CEO’s thereatening to go Galt: Koch, David Segal of Westgate Resorts, Arthur Allen of ASG Software Solutions (a CA/Compuware wannabee), and now a billionarie immigrant founder of Interactive Brokers (Thomas Peterffy) who’s doing ad buys warning of Obama’s socialism.

  17. 17
    liberal says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    I would think that an employer practically threatening employees to vote a certain way would be a no no, but I’m wrong.

    This is a big downside to absentee balloting. I don’t see what would prevent one person from coercing or bribing another.

  18. 18
    liberal says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    Yeah, wondering the same thing.

  19. 19
    Platypus says:

    Looks like a RICO case to me. If a law-enforcement officer was paid to participate in a patently illegal activity (kidnapping) then that’s some pretty serious corruption. Are felons allowed to continue funding political campaigns?

  20. 20
    Ash Can says:

    I have to think that nothing gets your employees on your side faster than threatening them with their jobs if they don’t vote for all of your pet assholes.

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I had the same thought. I can see how bitching at your employees to vote a certain way would be legally kosher, but not holding someone against their will. I hope Martensen takes Koch to the cleaners in his lawsuit.

  21. 21
    Jackie says:

    This registered Dem was fired by them in 2007. Was a highly compensated senior level person (advised the C-level) at one of Koch’s acquired companies. Lots of reasons why I didn’t fit in, but it always seemed like there was a list of “non-subs” somewhere back in Wichita somewhere that served as a tipping point for my fate. To the subject of indoctrination, we were all shipped for a meeting in Wichita in Fall 2006, where we were regaled with horror stories from Koch’s main lobbyist about the hell that would ensue if the Democrats won the House as was then inevitable. We were encouraged to donate $5000 a year to KochPac, which would result in our getting to meet Good Old Charles himself. I felt like I needed to bathe afterwards. While my family’s fortunes have declined since I lost my position, I can’t help but think how horrible it must be to have to throw one’s principles under the bus to work for these A-holes.

  22. 22
    Kirbster says:

    The Unlimited Corporate Cash isn’t working, so they have to turn to out-and-out extortion, I guess.

    Of course, this is nothing new. While not as overt, I think it’s pretty common for employers to pressure their workers to vote a certain way (i.e. Republican). Big defense contractors hint that if there are any cuts to the defense budget, there will be significant layoffs. Other companies, big and small, imply that any regulations or tax increases will force them to take it out on employees and customers.

  23. 23
    rikyrah says:

    hate these fuckers

  24. 24
    beltane says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Sadly, they will never voluntarily go Galt as promised. Someone should compile a “Galt List” of wealthy whine-asses whose departure would be of benefit to the country.

  25. 25
    Comrade Jake says:

    Koch suckers! /obligatory

  26. 26
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Everyone working for the Koch’s now needs to update their personal security “in case of kidnapping” plan, just as if they were working in someplace like Columbia.

    I suggest something along the lines of “check in with a non-Koch-employed friend every few days, otherwise a SWAT team is sent in”

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    I wonder if the Kochs will even hire a registered Democrat.

    Charles Koch says they hire for “values.”

    Charles Koch says Americans are drifting dangerously away from traditions of honesty, independence and personal responsibility.
    __
    He learned after many years to hire for values rather than talent, he said.
    __
    “A lot of companies, and we’ve been guilty of this in the past, want to hire the smartest person, the most talented person. Well, the worst thing we can do, as we found, is hire a very talented person with poor values. If we’re going to hire somebody with poor values, we want somebody who’s not very smart. ’Cause he or she will do less damage.”

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/201.....rylink=cpy

  28. 28
    Elizabelle says:

    More on Koch family values, and their hiring:

    [Charles Koch] also prefers hiring people from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, because he says they are honest and have a strong work ethic.
    __
    A lot of them grow up in a rural area, where they’re out there having to work, and there are no fantasies about who is producing value and who isn’t,” Charles said. “If a cow dies because you didn’t feed her, you get a lesson. Somebody’s got to feed the cow.”
    __
    Charles Koch believes so devoutly in pursuing talents with passion and bearing the costs of our behavior that when his son, Chase, half-heartedly played a tennis match years ago, he sent the 13-year-old to work in a cattle feedlot in western Kansas. Liz said that the feedlot was so big that Chase could smell it from 20 miles away.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/201.....rylink=cpy

  29. 29
    gnomedad says:

    @amk:

    frank rich is freaking out. the teabaggers are coming, the teabaggers are coming.

    Yikes. I like Frank Rich. If he’s freaking, I’m worried.

  30. 30
    Ash Can says:

    @Elizabelle:

    He learned after many years to hire for values rather than talent, he said.

    Actually, that’s awesome. Seriously. If he’s really sticking to this criterion, he’s sabotaging his company from the inside out. It may take years, but the entire outfit is eventually going to be hollowed out and collapse under its own weight, and the competition will plow his enterprises under. It can’t happen soon enough.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: False imprisonment is probably more accurate than kidnapping. But let’s not get too technical – as you suggest, private citizens don’t get to do that.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    Charles Koch and some of his family sat for extended interviews with a McClatchy paper.

    Reporters Bill Wilson and Roy Wenzl of the Wichita Eagle have two long articles up, and they’re well worth reading.

    The Kochs’ Quest to Save America

    More about the man, and it’s often alarming (as described by his wife of 44 years):
    Charles Koch Relentless in Pursuing his Goals

  33. 33
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Thank you. I also wonder if it was legal for the deputy sheriff to act as Koch’s private guard.

  34. 34
    wrb says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I heard HP articulate the same hiring philosophy in the 70s. They were locating their facilities where they could hire kids from family farms.

    There is actually a point to it. On a family farm if you don’t work all night or go sleepless for a week and the harvest is spoiled you could lose everything- so one’s sense of worth becomes one with success at the job.

  35. 35
    sherparick says:

    What we are seeing is our nobility starting exercise their perogatives over their retainers. The Koch brothers, and the hundreds like them at the top of the social spectrum basically are above the law.

    Being a bit of a Medieval Junkie, I have always enjoyed Norman Cantor’s “History of the Middle Ages,” where at the beginning he makes the observation that fairly early on the Neolithic Agricutlural Revolution to the end of the Middle Ages societies were organized so that a “King” at the top of social pyramid with a small noble elite of great landlowners, a small literate middle class that conducted approved trade and provided the priestly orders that gave the setup the legitimacy of the Sacred, and the mass of people producing a subsistence with the surplus going to the elite. This was the Conservative order of the world, and once men of wealth, particularly inherited wealth like the Kochs, reach a certain point they want to reassert this order. This is the whole point of Corey Robinson’s “The Reactionary Mind” and his blog. http://coreyrobin.com/2011/07/.....sm-stupid/

  36. 36
    Scott S. says:

    @amk: Frank Rich is stoned. Everyone hates the teabaggers, and their influence is dying as they die off. Hard to conquer the world that way…

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @sherparick: Cantor’s book is one of my favorites. Always cool to see it mentioned.

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jackie:

    How painful to have lived through that.

    Charles Koch, certainly, is a totalitarian in the guise of a “free market” savior.

    And a bully too, even with courtly manners. Check out the “relentless” article for anecdotes on how he treats his wife and friends.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/201.....g-his.html

    Insisted she ski 2 levels above her competence, following him down ski slopes that terrified her. Finally his knees gave out.

    Returning serves so savagely that he’s injured at least two people. Plays to “win” in his off hours too.

    Sees himself as a modern-day Martin Luther.

  39. 39
    weaselone says:

    @Howard Beale IV:

    It’s a pity that Obama isn’t the sinister force these billionares accuse him of being. A government abduction, followed by reconstructive surgery and a one way trip to Somalia would give them a little perspective.

  40. 40
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @sherparick:

    Second the accolade for Cantor. I would also recommend Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.

  41. 41
    Citizen Alan says:

    If the Koch Brothers and their fellow travelers had been around in the 1930’s, they’d have been part of the Business Plot. And if the leaders of the Business Plot had been as influential and well-organized as the Kochs, it might have succeeded.

  42. 42
    Todd says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    And if the leaders of the Business Plot had been as influential and well-organized as the Kochs, it might have succeeded

    They were as influential, and just as sure of their own bullshit as the Kochs. The thing busted up because they assumed that Butler would enthusiastically take his 30 pieces of silver.

  43. 43
    Jebediah says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Charles Koch […] his son, Chase,

    He named his son Chase Koch. I see no potential for school-yard mocking there.

  44. 44
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Todd:

    The thing busted up because they assumed that Butler would enthusiastically take his 30 pieces of silver.

    Hence the “well-organized” dig. The Kochs would not have been so foolish as to pick as their figurehead dictator someone who would go on to write “War Is A Racket.” If a second Business Plot comes, you can be sure that its ringleaders will have in mind someone who is both reliably corporatist-fascist and who has been focus-group tested to hell and back. Probably another actor-turned-policitian.

  45. 45
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Elizabelle: The Koch are the Free market answer to the Kims of North Korea, then again the old man made his coin selling oil servicing technology to Stalin, so they got an inspiration.

  46. 46
    Xenos says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: False Imprisonment is an old common-law tort that is listed in most states’ criminal codes – it involves the illegal confinement of a person against their will, although the presence of the sherrif no doubt was intended to give this whole proceeding the colour of legality. It is less serious than kidnapping, although that may have happened when the exec. was put on a private plane under threat of force and sent somewhere for interrogation.

  47. 47
    Citizen_X says:

    Billionaire William Koch imprisoned and interrogated one of his executives at a secluded Aspen ranch, under a sheriff’s guard

    Nice job upholding the law there, Sheriff.

    @Jay in Oregon:

    I saw that episode of Firefly.

    Needs moar Reavers.

  48. 48
    J R in WV says:

    @Jackie:

    I was kinda wondering how it would feel to be a real librul and have to work for those unAmerican basturds !! Now I know, and it doesn’t feel any better.

    Sorry you lost your job, glad you gained additional self-respect!

    And me too on the RICO kidnapping! Shouldn’t everything owned by a criminal conspiracy be confiscated? Isn’t kidnapping a federal offence? What are they doing at the DoJ?

    I know here in southern WV they confiscated the farm of an elderly widow because someone else planted pot plants back on her ridge, where she couldn’t possibly have ever walked using her manual wheelchair! Freedom, it stings my eyes some days.

  49. 49
    Balconesfault says:

    Why do people not understand – Koch Brothers employ people for one reason only – because those people make money for them.

    If the Koch Brothers lay someone off, that means they are going to suffer some amount of dimunition in their ability to operate their pipelines and terminals and refineries within the law, and meet demand.

    If they do not meet demand, they lose money. If they don’t operate within the law, hopefully the Obama EPA/OSHA/DOT not only prosecute violations, but take these statements by Koch into court as a clear indication of a willful violation of the law.

  50. 50
    Chris says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Whether or not it’s legal, corrupt sheriffs acting as mob enforcers for the local magnate rather than like a cop is as American as apple pie.

  51. 51
    J R in WV says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Yes, it is legal for a LEO to be a private bodyguard, as long as the Deputy Dawg isn’t “double dipping”, that is, being paid by the public AND the private customer. I don’t know that a Deputy Sheriff would be my first choice, as a good friend is a LT in a sheriff’s office, and the stories he tells!

    And, also too, I’m totally jealous of your ‘nym, speaking as a once upon a time deck ape.

  52. 52
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @J R in WV:
    “Sweepers, Sweepers, man your brooms. Give the ship a good clean sweep down both fore and aft! Sweep down all lower decks, ladder backs and passageways! Dump all garbage clear of the fantail! Sweepers.”

  53. 53
    ruemara says:

    Can we target that asteroid?

  54. 54
    decitect says:

    I specify their construction materials, the sale of which has made them billionaires. Don’t think G-P products like DensGlas and other sheet rock will appear in my specs. What losers.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Hence the “well-organized” dig. The Kochs would not have been so foolish as to pick as their figurehead dictator someone who would go on to write “War Is A Racket.” If a second Business Plot comes, you can be sure that its ringleaders will have in mind someone who is both reliably corporatist-fascist and who has been focus-group tested to hell and back. Probably another actor-turned-policitian.

    This is why I’ve always had trouble buying the story of a Business Plot. You’d have to be much more than ordinarily stupid even by conservative MOTU standards to ask Smedley Butler, a man who was already infamous for his attacking big business and its stranglehold on the nation, to be the leading man in a corporate-sponsored coup.

  56. 56

    Once a Koch, always a Koch

  57. 57

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Yes, it would IF they weren’t filthy rich. I used to work in the CJ system and let me tell you, both our Civil and Criminal legal systems inordinately favor the wealthy.

  58. 58

    @Patricia Kayden: That was my first thought too….How can this not be illegal? And my next thought was, how the hell would they know if you did or did not vote for their candidates? I know that whether you voted or not is public info but I’m pretty damn sure WHO you voted for isn’t?

  59. 59
    sigaba says:

    My dad’s a registered Democrat and he did work for a Koch in the early aughts as an HR manager. He was eventually fired for, among other things “sighing too loudly in meetings” (no fooling).

  60. 60
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Xenos:

    It is less serious than kidnapping, although that may have happened when the exec. was put on a private plane under threat of force and sent somewhere for interrogation.

    Across state lines as in “Hello, FBI”?

  61. 61
    Chris says:

    @Ms. D. Ranged in AZ:

    I suppose they can look at numbers to tell them which districts went blue versus which went red, and close all their installations in the former.

    Isn’t that how old political machines worked? “You don’t HATE to vote for me, but some things might stop happening if you do.”

  62. 62
    Joel says:

    @Scott S.: yep, a not insignificant part of Romney shoring up his support was quietly abandoning the teabaggers.

  63. 63
    daverave says:

    @decitect:

    Me too brother (or sister.) I’ve been off the G-P specs for years.

  64. 64
    trollhattan says:

    @wrb:
    The twin pillars of meth and oxy have rather diminished the inherent “stalwartnicity” of a rural lifestyle. I don’t forsee this corporate model panning out in the long haul WRT attracting a hard-workin’, compliant workforce. That said, plopping your plants in rural areas of “right-to-work” states, adjacent to interstates and railways, can mean loads of cheap labor combined with the heady elixir of tax increment financing and other state-supplied gifts, such as blind environmental and labor enforcement personnel.

    Like coal companies have known for centuries, if you’re the only show in town you can abuse the shit out of your workforce and cow them into not complaining.

  65. 65
    Chris says:

    @Chris:

    (That “HATE” should have been a “HAVE.” My subconscious mind has been known to get the better of me when discussing the Kochs).

  66. 66
    The Crafty Trilobite says:

    That Complaint looks silly. Martensen was “interrogated” – i.e., ranted at – about a business f*kup, then fired, at a corporate retreat. Presumably he stayed through the “interrogation” in hopes of not being canned. Everything after that was the equivalent of having security escort you out of an office suite. They searched his bags, presumably for drives & files, not terribly unusual after being fired from a top exec position. They “imprisoned” him for a few hours in a guest cabin, apparently by asking him to wait there and asking the local sheriff to make sure he didn’t “wander off,” – nothing says he was locked in, threatened, or couldn’t have gone most places on their grounds. Then they “kidnapped” him by giving him a lift and a flight home. Again, he’s not alleging that they held a gun on him, locked him in, took away his cell phone. Gimme a break.

  67. 67
    Death Panel Truck says:

    “many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences” of voting for President Obama and other Democrats in the 2012 elections

    Since the ballot is secret, how the fuck would your employers know who you voted for? You can register as a Republican (in states that require registration) and still vote the Democratic slate.

  68. 68
    fuckwit says:

    First of all, how is this kind of voter intimidation by an employer at all legal?

    Secondly, you’d be surprised at how low the bar is for the crime of kidnapping. In California, IIRC it is moving someone 50 feet from where they were. Something like that– from one room to another– under some kind of threat or duress.

  69. 69
  70. 70
    Jebediah says:

    @The Crafty Trilobite:

    asking the local sheriff to make sure he didn’t “wander off,”

    So he was not, in fact, free to go. Which means he was detained.

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