Koch industrial tycoons are plagued with more hit pieces

It looks like another hit piece against Charles and David Koch is coming. A couple of Bloomberg reporters have been digging dirt on the Kansas brothers who own one of the world’s largest private corporations. The Kochs have for years devoted part of their substantial private wealth in support of political activities and causes with which they agree.

The Kochs are libertarians who believe free enterprise, individual liberty and the rule of law are the best creators and guardians of prosperity and opportunity for everybody.

That’s not a radical notion, as a majority of Americans would mostly agree with it. So it wasn’t exactly a surprise to discover a Koch-backed group — Americans for Prosperity — is a major player in the tea party movement.

The Koch brothers provided the left with a convenient stereotype to discredit the tea party — Two rich guys from Middle America running an allegedly evil corporation with world-circling tentacles.

And so we’ve heard repeatedly how the tea party is an “astroturf” tool the Kochs created to protect their millions. Jane Meyer’s lengthy conspiracy-sopped August 2010 New Yorker article is the piece de resistance in this effort.

More recently, a couple of Bloomberg reporters have been trolling among former Koch employees overseas in search of disaffected voices willing to talk.

One of those appears to be Ludmila Egorova-Farines, formerly European manager for ethics and commercial compliance for Koch Glitsch Sarl, a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Koch’s international operations that was dissolved last year.

Evidence was found four years ago that other KGF employees had paid bribes to obtain business. An investigation was launched that included among the investigators Egorova-Farines. Ultimately, more than two dozen people were either terminated or allowed to resign.

Koch USA officials say they were as surprised and angered as anybody else when they were first apprised of the bribery allegations, and moved as quickly as possible to get to the bottom of the situation and fix it.

But, during this period, Egorova-Farines grew progressively unhappy with KGF, allegations of discrimination were lodged, and her case went to the Employment Tribunal of Paris.

All of Egorova-Farines’ claims were dismissed. She appealed and the decision was overturned on a technicality. Koch and Egorova-Farines then settled out of court.

I spent a lot of my reporting years working with government whistle blowers, and generally find them admirable. But, like the rest of us, they’re just human and can have very mixed motives, of which careful journalists must always be aware.

A former U.S. government official of my acquaintance was approached recently by one of the Bloomberg reporters working on a Koch investigative piece. After some conversation about the French case, the reporter said, “The other interesting thing here is Koch has strong ties to the tea party.”

When the official asked what the tea party had to do with French bribery allegations, the reporter dropped the topic.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog on washingtonexaminer.com.

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