Charles Koch, his brother and employees have in recent months been getting death threats, hundreds of obscenity-laced hate messages, and harassment from some far left-wing groups, Koch said on Thursday.
“We are under attack from various directions, both with threats of violence against us personally, and with threats of attacks on our businesses,” Charles Koch said Thursday, in a phone interview from his office in Wichita.
Koch, the billionaire head of Koch Industries, rarely gives interviews, especially about the various political causes that he and his brother David support. The privately held company rarely releases information about its activities.
On Thursday, Charles Koch authorized employees to reveal the contents of hundreds of e-mails that the Kochs and employees have received in the last year, some of them containing death threats. “I hope you all DIE,” one e-mail, received last year, said. “You people are ruining our country, and all for $$$.” “Choose your expiration Date, Brothers” said another. “The Koch brothers will DIE!!!!!” said another.
There were hundreds more — some from Wisconsin, where the Kochs were accused of aiding Gov. Scott Walker in his disputes against unions.
Most of them were signed with what appear to be real names, many contained obscenities, and some Koch employees said these messages had made them nervous.
Because of the threats the Kochs have seen in recent months, company representatives have had considerable conversations with Wichita police. They decided to speak out Thursday, only two days before hundreds of “Occupy Koch Town” protesters might show up outside the Koch Industries building in north Wichita. Activists will gather this weekend in Wichita to attend a series of events that will focus on the Keystone Pipeline as well as energy, environmental and climate policies.
Yvonne Cather of Wichita, who is conservation chairwoman of the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, one of the groups organizing the weekend gathering, said the Koch people are overreacting to the planned activities. “The Sierra Club prides itself on high integrity, so violence is not the way we want to get our point across,” she said.
Most of the death threats came in months ago. What prompted the decision to comment publicly now, said Melissa Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Industries, was that they were told that some of the protesters coming into town this weekend are from the “Occupy Oakland” movement that tried to shut down the port of Oakland. But Cather said none of the people gathering this weekend are from Oakland. “One person is from South Dakota,” she said.
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