Koch brother who is a big Romney donor is accused of imprisoning employee

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.

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Kathleen Geier

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