In 2009 Gibson Guitar came under attack by the the Obama Justice Department for accusations that the company broke
American Indian laws. Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitars, Inc., said the government suggested that the company’s use of unfinished wood from India was illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because of the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. What raised many eyebrows about the confiscation was that the countries involved, India and Madagascar, indicated that they were not interested in pursuing the matter when contacted by the Department of Justice. The company’s real crime was that they donated to Republican candidates and not to Obama.
As the American Thinker reported: After spending nearly two and half million dollars in legal fees and paying a $300,000 fine, the government settled with Gibson and finally returned the confiscated tonewood after several years. An additional $50,000 “donation” was piled on to pay off an environmental activist group.
Now Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz says unions protectionists incited the SWAT Team raid on his business.
Henry Juszkiewicz bought the troubled Gibson Guitar company in 1986. With revenues having dropped to below $10 million a year, the iconic 84-year old guitar maker was bleeding cash and on its way to bankruptcy. Since then, Juszkiewicz turned Gibson around, making it into an international powerhouse, growing at better than 20 percent a year compounded, with current annual revenues rumored to be approaching $1 billion.
A great American success story? Yes, but Gibson’s very success made it a fat target for federal prosecutors, whom Juszkiewicz alleges were operating at the behest of lumber unions and environmental pressure groups seeking to kill the market for lumber imports. “This case was not about conservation,” he says. “It was basically protectionism.”
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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