gibson_guitars

Use of the alphabet agencies to intimidate businesses and law abiding citizens.

Via Human Events

Time to revisit an old abuse-of-power scandal from President Obama’s first term: the utterly bizarre raid on Gibson Guitars by a paramilitary unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nothing about this caper ever smelled right: a raid coming from out of nowhere, without warning, to kick Gibson’s doors down, ostensibly because they violated some vaporous provision of import laws when bringing hardwood into the country. It wasn’t even American law they were supposedly violating, but an American law that said they were in hot water for violating the laws of India and Madagascar, which came as something of a surprise to authorities in India and Madagascar. In a delightful inversion of American legal principle, the folks at Gibson were never allowed to see the sealed warrant that supposedly authorized the raid. Guilty until proven innocent! We’ll get back to you later on what you’re allegedly guilty of.

It was long suspected that the Gibson raid was a political hit, carried out because CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, made campaign donations to Republicans. The financial disruption to the company was considerable – a $250,000 settlement, a $50,000 payoff to environmentalist groups, over $2 million in legal fees, plus the cost of being essentially shut down for a while by the raid.

Forbes recently talked to Juszkiewicz, and he finally thinks he knows who was really behind it all: unions. He’s got some good reasons for thinking so:

Two months before the raid, lobbyists slipped some arcane supply-chain reporting provisions into an extension of the Lacey Act of 1900 that changed the technical definition of “fingerboard blanks,” which are legal to import.

With no clear legal standards, a sealed warrant the company has not been allowed to see too this day, no formal charges filed, and the threat of a prison term hanging over any executive who does not take “due care” to abide by this absurdly vague law, Gibson settled. “You’re fighting a very well organized political machine in the unions,” Juszkiewicz concluded. “And the conservation guys have sort of gone along.” Hey, what’s not to like about $50,000?

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