As John Hinderaker put it, the Gibson Guitar case grows curiouser and curiouser. Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz might be a Republican donor, but he’s also a former board member of the Rainforest Alliance and, in his commitment to forest preservation, has aligned his company with Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups. The Wall Street Journal, with the details:
After the 2009 raid, Mr. Juszkiewicz resigned from the board of the Rainforest Alliance, which seeks to preserve tropical forests. He said he didn’t want to tar the nonprofit with bad publicity. A Rainforest Alliance spokeswoman said he wasn’t pressured to step down, and the group continues to praise Gibson’s efforts to promote responsible harvesting of wood.
Scott Paul, a Greenpeace official in New York responsible for forestry issues, said Gibson for years has done “great work” to promote better forestry practices.
In June 2008, on a trip organized by environmentalist groups, Gibson wood product engineer Gene Nix went to Madagascar to talk to local officials about selling responsibly harvested wood to makers of musical instruments.
But the government has even used that against Gibson, quoting e-mails from Nix in which he refers to “widespread corruption and theft of valuable woods” and the possibility of buying ebony and rosewood from Madagascar on “the grey market” as evidence that Gibson has knowingly purchased contraband. Gibson said Nix’s emails were quoted out of context — plausible, given how thin the case against Gibson has been from the beginning! Makes sense that Nix would write about what he learned while talking to officials in Madagascar — including any new knowledge about that suspect “grey” market.
If the Department actually cared about forest preservation — and if the wood in question actually is contraband — then Justice wouldn’t penalize a company that has proved its commitment to the same cause by its enviro ties. But then Justice clearly doesn’t care how obvious its hypocrisy becomes in this case. DOJ officials have already ignored two significant storylines: Gibson competitor C.F. Martin (whose CEO overwhelmingly supports Democrats with his campaign contributions) has used the same sketchy Indian rosewood and First Lady Michelle Obama has also been caught shipping the stuff overseas in the form of a Gibson guitar present to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.