Elusive Charles Koch Deploys Security To Block Joel Francis’ Visit to Koch Industries HQ to Invite Debate on Prop 23

Tue, 2010-10-26 15:09Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Elusive Charles Koch Deploys Security To Block Joel Francis’ Visit to Koch Industries HQ to Invite Debate on Prop 23

Joel Francis, the Cal State-Los Angeles senior and Marine Corps veteran, today followed through on his promise to visit Koch Industries headquarters in Wichita, Kansas to formally deliver his letter challenging CEO Charles Koch to a public debate about his funding of Prop 23, an attack on California’s clean energy investments and job creation efforts.  

After receiving no response from Koch following the video posting of his challenge last week, Joel traveled all the way from Los Angeles with a group of fellow college students and Gabe Elsner, campaign director of Powervote CA and the California Student Sustainability Coalition.  

The goal was simple and the approach polite – Joel simply hoped to meet with Charles Koch to invite him to a public debate “anytime, anywhere in the state of California” between now and election day about why Koch would attack the fastest growing sector in California’s struggling economy – clean energy jobs, which are growing 10 times faster than other sectors.

But as the students arrived, it was clear that Koch wasn’t rolling out the red carpet for Joel.  

Pairs of security guards were stationed prominently outside each entrance to the Koch corporate campus.  Marked and unmarked Koch security vehicles trailed several cars after they dropped the students off on the front lawn of Koch HQ. (The vehicle I arrived in along with PowerVote’s Gabe Elsner was also trailed as it left the scene.)

Larry Moorman, Koch’s Director of Corporate Security, immediately approached Elsner and wrongly claimed that we were on private property.  Elsner responded that county records indicated the first 18 feet of lawn adjacent to the curb was public property, which sent Mr. Moorman on his way back to guard the front door from the apparent ‘threat’ of an articulate college senior challenging the company’s secretive CEO to talk to him.  

Huddled closely together on the narrow strip of public lawn in front of Koch Industries’ infamous corporate logo, Joel delivered a statement reiterating his modest challenge, flanked by several California students holding signs saying “Mr. Koch: Got Courage?” and “Hands Off Our Clean Energy Jobs!”

Joel and Gabe then approached the front door of Kochtopus HQ to try to get inside to meet the elusive CEO, but were met again by the trenchcoat-wearing Mr. Moorman (whose appearance recalled to memory the Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files).  

Moorman refused them entry, but agreed to personally deliver Joel’s letter to Charles Koch.  However, when pressed by the pair on whether Koch had any statement in response to Joel’s challenge, Moorman quickly made it clear that they were on private property and said “you know where the easement is,” a barely concealed way of saying ‘get back on public property or else.’

Retreating 20 steps back to the safety of the public strip of lawn, Joel placed **a phone call** to Koch’s main line and was transferred to Charles’ secretary, who again said Mr. Koch was not available, but took Joel’s cell number and promised to deliver the message.  

Thwarted in his attempts to shake the hand of the billionaire bankrolling Prop 23, Joel is headed back to California to rally students across the state to vote no on the dangerous proposal.  Whether Charles Koch will answer his polite request to a public debate remains to be seen.  

Will the billionaire stay locked inside his Kochtopus fortress, cowering at the prospect of a college student’s outrageously reasonable challenge to a civil debate on Koch’s own terms?  Or will he finally explain to California voters why he’s bankrolling an effort to wreck the clean energy job prospects of Joel Francis and millions of other young Californians?

**Disclosure: Since Joel and Gabe both experienced technical difficulties with their phones, I let Joel use my cell to place the call to Charles Koch’s office.**

Update #1: The car I arrived in was tailed and passed by three times by a red burgundy Cadillac with Missouri plates AA3Z5L, driven by a white male smoking cigarettes. 

Update #2: Here is a video from PowerVote CA about Joel’s visit to Koch HQ.

 

Previous Comments

Why do you feel it’s necessary to lie in order to make your point? “Pairs of security guards were stationed prominently outside each entrance…” My that certainly makes it sound dark and ominous! Let’s not mention that there aren’t enough security guards in the building to do this.

“Unmarked Koch security vehicles” trailing your cars? For anyone wondering, this is just as stupid and paranoid as it sounds. There are no unmarked security vehicles there. By the way, who was the guy in the Smart Car who couldn’t navigate the intimidating obstacle course known as parking?

Here’s a tip for Joel, if you’re going to show up to someone’s door talking about energy policies, don’t get dropped off in a gas guzzling old ass Cadillac. If you expect to get an audience, don’t show up at 12:00, lunchtime, and then leave after less than an hour. It would be surprising if Koch was even in the building at all during your charade.

Seriously, did you even want to actually to talk to someone? Because it seemed like it was just a half assed attempt at getting some publicity. Which, not surprisingly, also failed when the news crew took off after only a few moments when they realized how much of a joke it was.

How about your convictions? If you’re really trying to drum up support for clean energy, that’s great. But how much energy did you waste traveling all the way Wichita knowing full well that no one was going to take you seriously? Since you accomplished absolutely nothing, do you really feel it was worth it?

Yadsen and HiredMind, thanks for joining the discussion. I take it you are both Koch employees or contract security guards by the level of detail you possess about the event. Everything I said is true and confirmed by video footage and multiple witnesses. Pairs of security guards were absolutely posted at all entrances to Koch HQ yesterday (those visible from the street, obviously. I dont have the kind of surveillance gear your team possesses.) You know better than I how many security guards are in your building, but there were pairs of guards that I identified guarding your building front entrance, parking lot, and of course the 2 green shirts posted at the Koch logo wall throughout the event. The vehicle I arrived in along with Gabe Elsner was tailed after dropping us off (on public property), and our driver reported being passed by three times by a red burgundy Cadillac with Missouri plates AA3Z5L, driven by a white male smoking cigarettes. Whether this was a Koch employee or contract security guard has not been confirmed but I am working on finding out. Perhaps you could have your corporate security director Mr. Moorman call me to confirm, that would be great. He has my number already, clearly. Joel and the students didnt arrive in a “gas guzzling old *** Cadillac,” they arrived in a Toyota sedan, which was also tailed all the way to the nearest public parking area. Thanks for the comments. Very illustrative of the kind of secrecy and intimidation Koch is all about. If you had nothing to be ashamed of, you would not display such force. It is rather sad that your CEO is afraid to talk to a college student and former Marine who served his country and just wants to know why Koch is meddling in California democratic processes all the way from Wichita. What are your real names by the way? Conversation is so much more enriching when participants are honest about who they are.

Brenden, why didn’t you disclose that the phone call to Kock’s office came from your cell phone?

Why don’t you come clean Brenden, and fess up that you manufactured this story; you pushed Joel Francis to challenge Mr. Koch to the debate, and you’ve been shepherding him the whole time.

My name is Brendan. And it is Koch not Kock. Disclosure added. I am not a journalist, never represented myself as one in Kansas, Breitbart can say what they want to distract from the real issue. I met Joel Francis in Wichita for the first time, and when his phone did not work, I gladly offered mine so he could make the call to the Koch office. The only way for Joel to get to the truth about why Charles Koch is attacking democratic processes in California is to ask him, and he is awfully hard to get a hold of, regardless if it is my cell phone or yours. Well, maybe not so hard from yours.

Wow Brendan, you seem to have gotten their attention. Good for you, and good for Joel Francis. I’m excited by the prospect of the Koch bros coming into public view. I’m excited any time that the motivations of heavy spenders might come to light. But I’m pretty excitable.

I’ve worked for contract security companies, and in my experience it’s unusual to station guards outside the entrances to a company at any time — much less during the daytime, when it tends to offset the welcoming ambiance that visitors expect.

(At night there would be roving guards, typically one per building, with walkie-talkies.)

Of course, if a large company like Koch Industries is expecting someone unwelcome, hiring in a few extra guards for the day is a trivial expense.

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