Does that Gibson Guitar raid make more sense now?

posted at 11:01 am on May 26, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

An editorial at Investors Business Daily may wind up being filed under how did I miss this one? Following the recent revelations of cases where the administration appears to have used the muscle of the federal government to go after its political enemies, IBD takes a walk down memory lane to the strange case of Gibson Guitars and the federal raids on their facilities for alleged illegal importing of exotic woods used in their products. They reach one provocative conclusion.

The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another targeting by this administration of its political enemies…

Interestingly, one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood,” which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson’s guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Well, let’s see… maybe C.F. Martin was getting their supplies from a properly regulated source? No. Did they fill out some forms that Gibson forgot to submit? No… so what could it be?

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted,” Juszkiewicz said at the time, adding the matter “could have been addressed with a simple contact (from) a caring human being representing the government. Instead, the government used violent and hostile means.”

The end of that story was a travesty, with Gibson being forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in a settlement where there was no finding of criminal action just so they could get back to business. At the time of the judgement, our own Mary Katharine Ham covered the story and found a lot wrong with it, but even she didn’t seem to suspect this situation. And in retrospect, it doesn’t seem all that surprising.

While all this was going on, there was plenty of reason to suspect that there was politics of some sort involved. With Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, it didn’t seem much of a stretch to think that the eco-warriors were in full throated, chest thumping mode and they would be pushing the limits to show how much they were doing to save the planet. The Gibson story, with its hook of endangered forests and evil manufacturing giants stripping the land, was a perfect fit. But I don’t think many of us imagined that even the Obama administration would be so blatant as to simply launch a police state style attack on a company which supported their enemies while leaving friendly, Democrat donating competitors alone. Or at least I didn’t.

Is this paranoid, tinfoil hat territory? I assure you that Obama supporters reading this will declare it to be exactly that. But given what we’ve been finding in the news recently, is it really that far fetched? Not any more.


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