As the 2014 midterms approach, the billionaire industrialists and politically conservative uber-donors known as the Koch Brothers continue to loom large in our political discourse. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has famously targeted Charles and David Koch with his ire, and prominent Democrats have labored to cast the pair as the King Bad Boogeymen of the post-Citizens United era. And while this effort has birthed some unintended consequences, it's not been a purposeless endeavor: As Dave Weigel reported back in March, Democratic fundraising emails that mention the Kochs tend to yield a good deal more loot than those that don't.
So, for better or for worse, Koch Industries will continue to be a flashpoint for all manner of political rows. But if it's not too much to ask, can we all make sure that we're talking about the right Koch Industries?
For example, there is a Koch Industries in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and everyone needs to know that this is not the Koch Industries you are looking for, OK? Evidently, confusion with the more famous Kochs has been something of a constant problem for the Minnesota company, to the point where on most of its websites, it's had to publish a disclaimer that reads:
To our valued customers and visitors: In response to numerous inquiries, we wish to advise that we are not in any way associated, related, affiliated nor a part of the much larger "Koch Industries, Inc." located in Wichita, Kansas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_industries). We are likewise not associated in any way with its principal owners, brothers David H. Koch or Charles G. Koch, or any of their political activities or entities.
Yes, it seems people call this Koch Industries (which is pronounced "cook," by the way), believing they are contacting the other Koch Industries (pronounced "coke"), all the time. According to my colleague Zach Carter, who was recently one such caller, Koch ("Cook") Industries was even targeted in 2012 by protestors, who had shown up at the wrong place to yell at the wrong people.
Here's a pro-tip: If you're going to rustle up a posse of people to shout "Do you know who you work for?" at a building, you should first make sure you know the answer to that question yourself.
Obviously, it's natural to have some momentary confusion. "Koch ('Cook') Industries" is, after all, a homonym of "Koch ('Coke') Industries." And funnily enough, "Koch ('Cook') Industries," like "Koch ('Coke') Industries," involves a set of "Koch Brothers." But that's where the similarities end. Koch ("Cook") Industries was founded by Randy, Dave and Jim Koch. They make chains and ropes and tarps and tools and farm accessories, some of which you might encounter at your local hardware store. They also run a trucking company and a logistics business. They have a nice thing going on! They provide a lot of goods and services to hardworking people. But they are not a cabal of scary political puppetmasters.
Koch-as-in-Cook Industries is not the only company that people have mixed up with the more notorious Koch Brothers and their corporate concern. There is also an Iowa company named "Koch Brothers Office Supplies," and back in April 2011, Justin Rohrlich at the financial news site Minyanville reported that the Iowa Kochs were being mis-targeted by similarly confused people:
The rich-as-hell Kochs (as opposed to the in-all-likelihood-fairly-well-off Kochs) have inspired deep, feverish emotions on either end of the political spectrum. And [owner Dutch] Koch ... tells the Des Moines Register that, since the beginning of the year, he’s received "at least 20 emails and 15 calls from confused protesters" who do not agree with the other Koch brothers' conservative (and heavily-publicized) political views.
“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, which the FBI traced to a California man who has apparently never heard of, much less used, Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine untold numbers of four year-olds have mastered.
I really shouldn't have to say this, but here goes: Don't send death threats to any Koch Brother. Don't send death threats to anyone, in fact. The whole "sending death threats to people" thing is just not a good look, okay?
At any rate -- please, everyone, know your Kochs. Stop calling the wrong ones on the phone. Hit up the Google before you schlep out to protest. Visit these various websites and make a note of everyone's branding and logos. That way, if you encounter Koch Industries hardware or Koch Brothers office supplies in the wild, you won't work yourself into an unnecessary dudgeon. Let's make things easier and nicer for that subset of the world's Kochs who are neither the people at whom you are angry or the people from whom you are seeking tens of millions of dollars in political boodle.
Think we can do that? Okay, great talk, guys.
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