Political Animal


October 14, 2012 8:24 PM Koch brother who is a big Romney donor is accused of imprisoning employee

By Kathleen Geier

Holy crap! A former employee of right-wing billionaire William Koch has filed a lawsuit alleging that his employer kidnapped and imprisoned him, in an incident that lasted for days. The employee, an executive named Kirby Martenson, claimed that his employer “lured him to a secluded property, where he was imprisoned” and subjected to a lengthy interrogation. Martenson says that he

had a flight booked from Aspen, but was not permitted to travel to the airport, he claims, as a local sheriff worked with Koch’s employees to “make sure you don’t wander off,” according to the complaint. He says he was subjected to a several-hour interrogation, fired, held against his will on the property, then forced to fly in a private plane to San Francisco, accompanied by a man he believed to be armed.

Martenson claims the incident occurred because he had serious qualms about his employer’s tax-dodging shenanigans, such as he himself being “transferred overseas to Asia so that the Koch company could avoid paying U.S. taxes on some $200,000,000 in profits.” The company said it happened because Martenson was committing fraud against the company.

I find this story shocking. The idea of a private company detaining a citizen is an outrageous violation of civil liberties and basic human rights; it’s especially galling that this was all done with the assistance of a local sheriff. If this story is true, I hope Martenson gets every penny he sues them for, and more. If this case goes to trial, it will be fascinating to watch. It may very well shed some unwelcome light on William Koch’s companies and business practices, which will be all to the good.

One thing for sure is that Mitt Romney must be thanking his lucky stars that the trial is not supposed to be held until next year. William Koch, who the suit was filed against, is a huge Romney supporter; he’s donated some three million dollars to a pro-Romney PAC.

In closing, I should note William Koch is the youngest of the Koch brothers. He’s not as famous as his older brothers, conservative activists Charles and David. But like them, William is a right-wing billionaire.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • thewarthatkilledachilles on October 15, 2012 7:05 AM:

    As for it being the real Koch , the difference in the bottom of the pile to the top is that on the bottom you have bottom chickensht and on the top you have top chickensht , all the rest is chickensht .

  • martin on October 15, 2012 8:30 AM:

    Maybe this is how you become a made man in the Koch family.

  • Kathryn on October 15, 2012 9:10 AM:

    I believe this is the Koch sibling who is trying to swap land with the federal government so his property is contiguous (think that's the word). Article in NYT not long ago, he is building an authetic old western town on his property to be used and enjoyed by his friends and family, will not be open to the public as I recall (surprise!). He is attempting to shield the town from public view with the property swap, if I remember correctly.

  • thewarthatkilledachilles on October 15, 2012 9:29 AM:

    Just like Marie Antoinette's homesick Potemkin villages ? That is so touching ...

  • Sharon Green on October 15, 2012 9:36 AM:

    Not quite as bad as the Obama administration's midnight arrest of the filmmaker who created the anti-Muslim video that was put on YouTube. Worse yet, the administration did it to give credence to its lie that the video caused the murder of the U.S. ambassador.

    It's rather insulting to even compare the private conduct of some unknown Koch brother (who isn't running for president) to an administration with such a terrible record on civil rights. Obama personally orders the killing of U.S. citizens without trial or any judicial process. Nothing can top that.

  • KazooGuy on October 15, 2012 9:40 AM:

    He may soon be as famous as G.W. Bush's financiers Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Funny how the MMM have forgotten about them. Funny how they've forgotten about GWB too.

  • mb on October 15, 2012 10:18 AM:

    Wonder why we're not talking about criminal charges? IIRC, kidnapping used to be a felony.

  • Donald Ball on October 15, 2012 10:33 AM:

    Sharon: The filmmaker was arrested by local police for violating the terms of his sentence. Why do you support scofflaws?

    Furthermore, civil rights is a broad area. Obama has been stellar on some, abhorrent on others.

  • exlibra on October 15, 2012 11:49 AM:

    I'm sure that the littlest Koch still has enough money to buy himself at least a couple of psychiatrists who'll testify that Martenson is as loony as can be, and the case will be dismissed.