In recent months, the U.S. government has dispatched heavily armed federal law enforcement officers to raid Gibson Guitar factories—American guitar factories!—in Tennessee for violations of the Lacey Act, a federal statute that makes it a crime to import some tropical hardwoods in violation of foreign laws.
Condemning this “overreach” by the feds, Gibson chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, reported that “armed people came in our factory…evacuated our employees, then seized half a million dollars of our goods without any charges having been filed.” In total, U.S. government agents have seized more than $1 million of rosewood, ebony, and finished guitars from Gibson factories in Memphis and Nashville in raids in 2009 and August 2011, Juszkiewicz said.
Welcome to 21st-century green protectionism, Obama Administration–style.
And apparently not just protectionism but green cronyism is afoot, too, since other reports indicate that the Obama Administration is enforcing the Lacey Act in an arbitrary and selective manner.
John Hinderaker reports on the Powerline blog that “Juszkiewicz is a Republican donor, while the CEO of one of his principal competitors, C. F. Martin and Company, is a Democratic donor.” Martin reportedly uses the same wood, but Justice Department hasn’t raided them, leading to speculation that the Obama Administration is sending a warning to Republican businessmen that they had better not oppose his re-election lest they face criminal investigations.