Is it beyond ironic when a gun company that's made its fortune marketing handguns to law enforcement finds itself and its one-time employees mired in a web of alleged criminal activity that includes money skimming, illegal campaign contributions, and even murder?
And the fact that the head of the company, Gaston Glock, used to pal around with a suspected Nazi sympathizer doesn't hurt.
The company is handgun manufacturer Glock. And the source for these alleged criminal acts is a lengthy new investigative piece (remember investigative journalism, that thing real reporters used to do before they were replaced by a wave of young, inexpensive scribblers who think Wikipedia is a legitimate reference source?) in the most recent edition of Business Week.
According to Business Week, "Allegations of corruption permeate Gaston Glock's empire." Alleged criminal acts (the bulk of which Glock denies or blames on past employees) reported by Business Week include:
- Creating a complicated series of shell companies to conceal the company's profits from U.S. tax authorities.
- Distributing company funds to Glock employees and their wives with the understanding that the money would be distributed to congressional candidates--an apparent violation of U.S. election law.
- A murder attempt on Gaston Glock's life found by the courts to have been engineered by his business partner Charles Ewert.
- Theft and embezzlement by Glock employees.
In addition to the criminal allegations, Business Week notes:
Glock's political and public relations activities in the U.S. sometimes have tended toward strangeness. Internal records show payments of thousands of dollars a month over several years to a gun industry lobbyist named Richard Feldman. In interviews, Feldman says that at Gaston Glock's request he spent some of the money in 1999 and 2000 to arrange U.S. appearances by Jorg Haider, then the leader of Austria's anti-immigrant, far-right Freedom Party. Glock has been described in Austria as a political supporter of Haider, although the arms maker has sued both an Austrian newspaper and a politician there for making that claim. The arrangements Feldman says he worked on included Haider's attendance at a January 2000 banquet in New York honoring the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The King dinner, sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality, received media coverage because Hillary Clinton criticized her then-rival for a New York Senate seat, Rudolph Giuliani, for attending the celebration [sic] Haider present.
Before he died in a car accident last year, Haider stirred controversy, according to media reports, for praising the "character" of elite Nazi SS troops and the "employment policy" of Adolph Hitler. "Glock urged me to help Haider overcome some of the [image] problems," says Feldman. The lobbyist says he thoroughly researched the situation to satisfy himself that neither Glock nor Haider ever supported the Nazi cause. "There were loose statements [by Haider] that were blown out of proportion," he says.
Is Gaston Glock just the victim of renegade employees and a poor choice in friends? That remains to be seen. According to Business Week, his "corporate web is now under scrutiny by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service...."
But the next time the gun lobby talks about the firearms industry in hyperbolic, glowing terms that equate it with freedom itself, just remember the name Gaston Glock.