Just in case you haven't heard, the feds raided the Gibson Guitar Factory recently. NPR has the story: Last week federal marshals raided the Gibson Guitar Corporation in Tennessee. It wasn't the first time. The government appears to be
September 8, 2011


Just in case you haven't heard, the feds raided the Gibson Guitar Factory recently. NPR has the story:

Last week federal marshals raided the Gibson Guitar Corporation in Tennessee. It wasn't the first time. The government appears to be preparing to charge the famous builder of instruments with trafficking in illegally obtained wood. It's a rare collision of music and environmental regulation.


The raids at two Nashville facilities and one in Memphis recalled a similar raid in Nashville in November 2009, when agents seized a shipment of ebony from Madagascar. They were enforcing the Lacey Act, a century-old endangered species law that was amended in 2008 to include plants as well as animals. But Juszkiewicz says the government won't tell him exactly how — or if — his company has violated that law.

This immediately became a rallying cry for the TeaPublicans to cry about excessive government interference and job-killing federal regulations. Gibson has been raided by the feds before this last one, but no charges have been filed. Yet.

The Tennessean:

By the time Juszkiewicz (pronounced Juss-ka-witz) reached his office, agents were forensically imaging his computer and carting out boxes of paperwork and company hard drives. At the factories, agents were loading trucks with pallets of rosewood and ebony, guitars, guitar necks, computers and shipping documents.

It was the second time in the past two years Gibson had been raided by federal agents in search of illegal imported woods. A 2009 case hasn’t led to any charges against the 117-year-old guitar maker, although it is continuing.

In both instances, federal authorities spelled out in search warrants that they suspect the company was illegally importing protected hardwoods from rapidly dwindling rain forests to make prized Gibson guitars.

Juszkiewicz is milking his outrage for everything it's worth, accusing the government of harassing him and, of course, destroying jobs with their federal regulations.

Enter John Boehner, Speaker of the House, and the guy not enough in control of his own caucus to get them to show even a modicum of respect and make an appearance at tonight's joint session of Congress. Despite notable absences by members of the House and Senate, Boehner has invited 13 guests to the speech who, in his view, have been harmed by the federal government's "job-killing regulations." One of those guests is Henry Juszkiewicz.

Via The Hill, the others are:

Lisa Ingram, COO of White Castle, a restaurant chain threatened by the health care law.

Jim Plante, CEO of Pathway Genomics, which has been "attacked" by FDA after proposing a merger.

Ignacio Urrabazo, president of Commerce Bank of Laredo, Texas, which has been blocked from some lending activity by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Jack Earle, managing partner of Earle Enterprises, who has claimed harm from healthcare and financial regulations.

Glenn Rieger, general partner at NewSpring Capital, which has cited problems with regulations from Sarbanes-Oxley.

Safi Bahcall, CEO of Synta, which Boehner says is being hampered by an "uncompetitive American business environment."

Kalell Isaza Tuzman, CEO of KIT Digital, which has cited problems with Sarbanes-Oxley.

Chris George, CEO of CMG Finance, a mortgage company facing higher costs under the healthcare law.

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Company, which was raided by federal agents who, Boehner's release said, have not explained reasons for the raid.

Gordon Logan, CEO of SportClips, one of the country's fastest growing hair salon franchises that is also "struggling with the new health care law's burdensome costs and mandates."

I will grant Boehner this. His choice of invitees does highlight the priorities Republicans have over Democrats. In Republicans' minds, there can be no pathway to jobs that doesn't include destruction of the environment, endangering people's health, and closing those same doors for people to get health care coverage. It is all-or-nothing for them.

In the case of Gibson Guitars, the allegations seem to center around Madagascar deforestation and rain forest preservation. From a 2009 New York Times story:

“Madagascar has 47 species of rosewood and over 100 ebony species that occur nowhere else, and their exploitation is pushing some to the brink of extinction,” said representatives of the environmental groups WWF, Conservation International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a joint statement issued last week.

The decree “legalizes the sale of illegally cut and collected wood onto the market and constitutes a legal incentive for further corruption in the forestry sector,” the statement said.

The harvest and export of precious wood from Madagascar, an island nation off Africa’s southeatern coast, is a regular source of controversy. Recent reports from the Madagascar news agency Les Nouvelles, for example, suggested that 176 containers of illegally harvested hardwood that were seized in July were ultimately allowed to leave the country pending a payment of $37,000 in taxes.

The containers were valued at $650,000.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has also reported armed gangs felling and removing rosewood and other endangered trees in Madagascar this year.

Gibson guitars are beautiful. We have a very old one in our collection. They're unique and have great tone. But if I were asked whether it was worth it to destroy rain forests to have one, my answer would be a clear "no". So let Boehner trot out these CEOs and whine about "job-killing regulations" all he wants. In the end, it's all for show anyway, since even an announcement of a total suspension of all regulations would still be repudiated by these lunatics as "job-killing".

At this point, it's all comedy wrapped in tragic outcomes.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.