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Minnesota businesses share name with Bachmann, Koch and nothing else

Hoping to avoid a case of mistaken identity, two Twin Cities–based businesses are trying to make it clear: They’re not affiliated with contentious political figures who share their names. Bachman’s Floral Gift & Garden and Koch Industries, Inc., a Golden Valley wholesaler of chain, rope and fasteners, have both posted notices on their websites, Bachman’s noting that it is in no way related to the controversial Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, and Koch stating that they’re not related to the brothers of the same name who famously finance tea party and libertarian causes.

Founded in 1885, Bachman’s — one “n” instead of two, unlike the congresswoman’s name — posted this statement on its website in mid-June:

We receive many inquiries about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Although she shares our home state of Minnesota, the Bachman family and Bachman’s Inc. are in no way related to or associated with Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Sarah Pitts, a representative for the company, told MinnPost’s Joe Kimball that it’s received “quite a lot” of calls asking about the connection, largely from Rep. Bachmann’s detractors who “don’t want their business with us to support the candidate.” Pitts, who says the notice on the company site shouldn’t be construed as a political statement, notes that the volume of calls coming in about the issue has decreased following the posting of the announcement.

Koch Industries, Inc., noting that its had “numerous inquiries” on the topic, states on its home page that it is “not in any way associated, related, affiliated nor a part of the much larger ‘Koch Industries, Inc.’ located in Wichita, Kansas. … We are likewise not associated with its principal owners, brothers David H. Koch or Charles G. Koch, or any of their political activities or entities.”

The company’s name is identical to the Koch Industries, Inc., which is involved in many areas including forestry, oil refining and manufacturing (its brands include Georgia Pacific, Brawny paper towels, Dixie Cups and Lycra fibers, to name a few). The Koch brothers of Wichita have reportedly donated more than $100 million over the past three decades to political groups like the Cato Institute, and David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity, a major tea party group. The company’s Minnesota holdings include the Flint Hills Resources refinery, a Georgia Pacific paper plant and coal and fertilizer companies, to name a few.

Minnesota’s Koch — pronounced “cook” not “coke,” unlike the other Kochs — has been in business since 1978, with a distribution center in Shakopee and offices in both Minneapolis and Shanghai.

But the topic of the Kansas company of the same name appears to be a sensitive subject for Koch. The Minnesota Independent called to ask when the company put up the notice and why, but was referred to its in-house attorney. After several requests for comment by phone over the course of a week, Koch general counsel Kevin Giebel sent this note via email:

We thank you and the Minnesota Independent for your inquiries regarding the above. At this point however, we have decided to respectfully decline public comment on matters involving the Koch Industries, Inc. based in Wichita, Kansas, at this time.

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