Claim: Koch Industries is paying the legal fees of George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin case.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, April 2012]
Was posted on my facebook page today. Is this true?
"In the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin ... The company Koch which manufactures paper products is paying for Zimmerman's legal fees because they feel he had legal right to bear arms and shoot Trayvon. We are asking that people everywhere band together with us and pass this information on and not purchase any of the following items because your money will be paying for Zimmermans lawyer fees!!! Please do not purchase any of the following items : Angel soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Dixie plates, bowls, napkins or cups, Mardi Gras napkins and towels, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Soft and gentile toilet paper, Sparkle napkins, Vanity fair napkins, Zero napkins, PASS IT ON"
Origins: Koch Industries is a multinational conglomerate based in Wichita, Kansas, which owns companies in a variety of industries, including pulp and paper. A rumor claiming that Koch was paying the legal fees of George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin shooting case, and calling for a boycott of Koch-owned paper companies began to spread in mid-April 2012. This rumor appears to be tied to a combination of George Zimmerman's launching a web site soliciting donations for his lawyers and living expenses and news reports linking Koch to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative policy group "that came under attack after the Trayvon Martin shooting for pushing Stand Your Ground gun laws nationwide":
Few people know the American Legislative Exchange Council by name, but they may know the laws the organization develops.
For decades, the group of lawmakers and private sector officials has worked closely to draft legislation that focuses on everything from the fairly mundane, like tax policy and cable TV regulations, to the controversial, such as voter ID laws and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" statute.
That last one pulled it into the spotlight in recent weeks after the death of teen Trayvon Martin. The law gives people wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight, and ALEC — as the group is known — has worked in recent years to spread it to other states.
ALEC announced that it was eliminating its public safety task force that had dealt with the "Stand Your Ground" law and said it was refocusing those resources on economic matters. The group said liberal foes are simply trying to score political points by taking advantage of the Martin tragedy.
Koch has denied having any connection to the passage of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law:
Koch has had no involvement in this legislation whatsoever. We have had no discussions with anyone at ALEC, the legislative policy group at issue, about the matter either. In fact, the only lobbying on firearms issues we have ever undertaken in Florida was in opposition to the National Rifle Association's support for a bill that mandated employers must allow employees to bring firearms onto company property.
As for the rumor of Koch's paying George Zimmerman's legal fees, we have found nothing (outside of mere repetition of the rumor) to support it, and Koch itself maintains there is nothing to it:
Contrary to an irresponsible rumor that began circulating online on April 18, Koch has no involvement whatsoever with the defense of George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin case.
As well, Melissa Cohlmia, Koch's Director of Corporate Communications, told us that the rumor is "entirely and unequivocally false."
The office of Mark O'Mara, attorney for George Zimmerman, has not responded to our request for comment.