Playing With Us

Have you been following the Gibson Guitar story? Federal agents last week raided both the Memphis and Nashville locations. They accused the company of using wood from India that was not allowed to be exported under international trade laws.

Or so they say.

The government’s look at Gibson Guitar’s Indian wood is not just the result of a zealous agent, according to the Landmark Report. Reporter Andrew Lawton fills us in on some of the issues not examined in stories by the local media.

He quotes the release by the Gibson Guitar Corporation: “The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

“On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.”

As Lawton writes, “The fact that the government would issue warrants based on their interpretation of another country’s laws is laughable – and scary – in and of itself, but that they would demonize an American, non unionized (coincidentally, I’m sure) company for something that isn’t even a crime (especially not in the American law books) is a gross injustice. Keep in mind that the Indian government itself wasn’t involved in the Gibson warrants and raid.

“This unfortunate event begs the question, Why Gibson?

“Putting aside the presumably misguided motivation to enforce another sovereign nation’s laws, why would a homegrown American company be the target of the Department of Justice in the first place?”

Good question. He goes on to note that Henry E. Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s CEO, has donated to Republicans. In particular, he gave $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn last year and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander and $10,000 to a Consumer Electronics Association PAC that gave to Republicans in 2010.

But that’s not all. Lawton finds that “one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Company. The CEO, Chris Martin IV, is a long time Democratic supporter with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the past couple of election cycles. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain East Indian Rosewood. In case you were wondering, that is the exact same wood in at least ten of Gibson’s guitars.”

This disgraceful use of the Justice Department. It’s not the first time, either. Remember how GM dealers who supported Republicans in 2008 suddenly found their dealerships on the elimination list when the government stepped into backing the company? Is it a coincidence that GE CFL light bulbs get a boost with the elimination of the incandescent bulb?

Clearly those who support Democrats in this administration get advanced and their opponents do not.

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