Verne Strickland Blogmaster 042111OOPS! INTIMIDATION AIMED AT SMALL IOWA FAMILY BUSINESS INSTEAD OF CONSERVATIVE BILLIONAIRES WHO HAVE FOUGHT UNIONS AND FINANCED TEA PARTY.
By Dwayne Hicks / Des Moines Register
A case of mistaken identity has entangled a small family-owned Des Moines company in union protests and led to a death threat.
Angry callers are mistaking Koch Brothers, a Des Moines office supply firm, with the brothers who own Koch Industries, the global energy conglomerate. Billionaires Charles and David Koch have fought Wisconsin unions, financed the tea party and opposed climate change rules.
Dutch Koch, president of the Des Moines company, wants everyone to know he's not one of those Koch brothers, and he's not politically active.
"I initially thought it was humorous to be confused with a multibillionaire," he said, but then a death threat was left on his answering machine. Koch reported the call to the FBI, which he said traced it to a California man.
“I initially thought it was humorous to be confused with a multibillionaire,” he said, but then a death threat was left on his answering machine. Koch reported the call to the FBI, which he said traced it to a California man.
The Koch Brothers employ 65 employees in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Brothers George, William and Frank Koch founded the company in 1889 as a spinoff from the Des Moines Register and Leader’s job printing shop.
Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan., is the nation’s second-largest private corporation. It employs dozens of lobbyists and finances several conservative causes, including a group that has run TV advertising supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s standoff with public unions. A subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, owns four ethanol plants in Iowa.
Both surnames are pronounced “coke.”
“From time to time, we’ve been confused with Koch Industries, but it’s always been an innocent misunderstanding,” Dutch Koch said.
Since the start of the year, Koch said he’s received at least 20 emails and 15 calls from confused protesters.
He said the trouble arises when media reports refer to “Koch brothers.” He figures the protesters are doing little research beyond a quick Google search.