Saturday, August 27, 2011

CEO of Gibson Guitars' Main Competitor is a Huge Democrat Donor; Also Uses Same Wood Without Any Complaints From Feds

Earlier this week the federal government executed its second major raid of Gibson Guitars in just two years. Armed agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stopped production at the company's manufacturing facilities on Wednesday, confiscating "massive quantities of wood, unfinished guitars, and finished products".

The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.

The fact that the government would issue warrants based on their interpretation of another country’s laws is laughable–and scary–in and of itself, but that they would demonize an American, non-unionized (coincidentally, I’m sure) company for something that isn’t even a crime (especially not in the American lawbooks) is a gross misjustice. Keep in mind that the Indian government itself wasn’t involved in the Gibson warrants and raid.

This unfortunate event begs the question, Why Gibson?

Like almost all of the actions of the Holder Justice Department, the raid was likely motivated by political considerations.

...Henry E. Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s Chief Executive Officer, is a [large] donor to a couple of Republican politicians...

When warrants as ridiculous such as these are issued and executed, there appears no other reason than because the company or individual at hand is being targeted, not because there is any sort of wrongdoing. As a company, Gibson is a legendary. They’ve done nothing wrong, except, apparently, deigning to have a Republican CEO.

The plot thickens, however.

One of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Company. The C.E.O., Chris Martin IV, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the past couple of election cycles. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood.” In case you were wondering, that is the exact same wood in at least ten of Gibson’s guitars.

So how could the federal government justify its attempts to shut down one of the few companies still manufacturing valuable products in the United States? The supposed reason is an egregious piece of legislation called the Lacey Act, which:

...regulates the importation of plants, animals, and products thereof into the United States. The Lacey Act effectively permits wooden musical instruments to be seized indefinitely, without compensation, and places the burden of proof on the owner, not the government. Do you own an $11,000 2011 Gibson Eric Clapton Edition Les Paul? Want to take it to Canada and back? You’d better be prepared to document the source of all materials to the government’s satisfaction upon your return, or you could lose it indefinitely. If you thinking documenting that is tough, what if you’re ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons returning from an overseas tour with your real 1959 sunburst Les Paul, for which you’ve already turned down at least one $5,000,000 offer? Good luck documenting the wood from a fifty-two-year-old guitar.

Very few [of our] readers travel with guitars, particularly across the country’s borders, so I don’t expect this to worry you personally. If, on the other hand, you want to drive across the Canadian or Mexican border in your own car — or even a rental — consider this: The same law that allows the Feds to raid American manufacturers and seize the possessions of Americans without compensation applies to cars, too.

...Simply possessing the timber product can make you a felon, regardless of whether or not you were involved in the harvesting, were the original importer, or had received any information regarding the source of the timber product...

...Here’s an example. Let’s say you are driving a Bentley Flying Spur with a rosewood interior. Importation of Brazilian rosewood is a felony under the Lacey Act. Do you know where the rosewood in your Spur came from? Can you prove it? In Gibson’s case, it was Indian rosewood that supposedly caused the bust; although the importation of Indian rosewood is legal, it has to be finished and prepared to certain standards in India. If raw Indian rosewood is sent to Bentley for finishing into dashboards — and make no mistake, that is how it is done — it may not break any British laws, but it breaks an American one, and you are now a convicted felon for visiting the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and coming back.

This federal government -- a behemoth now operated by the most partisan political hacks in my lifetime -- is completely out of control.

2012 can't come soon enough.

Hat tip: Big Hollywood. Linked by: Ace o' Spades, Weasel Zippers, Protein Wisdom, and iOwnTheWorld. Thanks!


Molon Labe said...

Doesn't this merit an congressional investigation followed by summary execution of various federal officials?

Doom said...

We can't get rid of this current government fast enough or hard enough. One hopes, with the tidal wave election coming up, that even standard Republicans will be swept into government cuts and then a cap on spending so that they can't get teenage girl weak-knee syndrome later on. Like teenage girls, it's all about keeping the dime in place (no need for the pill or abortion either, oddly). No regrets. And the Democratic slut walk, where they try to give the dime away, won't work either... with caps.

Come And Take It said...

this is what the National Socialist (Nazi) state looks like, with lawless thugs making up fake and asinine "laws" and "Acts" that benefit themselves and also harm our nation and our economy. then these lawless lying gutter pigs use their new fraudulent "laws" to exact their twisted totalitarian revenge upon any of us who don't play by their Nazional Socialist rules.

while I'm not a fan of some of Gibson's business practices and super high marked up pricing, this is a sickening travesty that shows us how far into totalitarianism these pigs who deign to rule us have descended.

this nation needs a civil war of American revolution to end the Marxist left once and for all. nothing else will do it. because they've so perverted and twisted our political process that elections alone will never get rid of them. mark my words.

we need to remember our Founders shot totalitarian thugs in the face in order to be free of them.

pity the ahole who comes to try to take my guns or my guitars or any other item of my property.

DesertCactus said...

It is time to consider coming together in the streets. This government will one day go a law too far and then there will be no turning back from what it has lost - the total trust of the majority of those who actually work and pay the taxes. That day is coming. The government is becoming a monster and will intimidate with fear and threats in the future. Watch and see.

DesertCactus said...

Join me at and let is start a movement across the nation that stands for power - not weakness! I know longer will "Know my place and shut my face!" We are at war with the Progressives and there is NO compromise. I am thankful George Washington didn't compromise either! Neither will we. Progressives should not sleep well for the anger they have brought us to.

Richard Roland said...

I have to hand it to you, Mr. Ross. A brilliant piece of propaganda for the regime, suggesting to your readers that the injustice done Gibson is due to the wrong party being in power, distracting them from the real issue: the promulgation by Washington of a Soviet-style law that essentially criminalizes every person, for the precise purpose of selective enforcement.

directorblue said...

@Richard Roland -

Gee, you must be new around these parts.

Try "Fork in the Road" for an introduction.

Bones said...

It's old protection racket. Pay us and you will protected from the regulators. You don't have to, of course, but it would be a shame if something happened to your business.

David said...

Yep. Really tired of the majority of conservative talk show hosts and the like that still pretend that this is just the wrong government in power and we need to get the 'other' government in power to fix it. This is about a global push to bring the USA down to the level of all other countries so there can finally be a one world govt, with obastard probably being promised a head in that communist style ogilarchy. It is almost past time that We the People stop pretending that this can all be halted with an election. Time for far more action than just thinking that turning up at a ballot box in 16 months will fix it.

Anonymous said...

I sold my Les Paul Studio and bought a Martin with the funds. I am getting rid of the Martin and will never play or own another. Is Rolling Stone covering this, or are they too busy trying to sabotage the US military during wartime?

ExExZonie said...

So Customs and BP have time to look for rosewood and ebony but not for real illegal aliens stealing American jobs and carrying cocaine and meth? Okie dokie then.

Iron Monkey said...

"Is Rolling Stone covering this, or are they too busy trying to sabotage the US military during wartime?"

If the sky is blue then the second choice is it. Rolling Stones got a huge crush on dictatorship style of governance, as long as they're guarantee a spot in the ruling clique. They will throw Gibson under the bus as fast as they can. I'll be surprised if they don't have a hit piece coming out soon.

Yes, I said "ruling clique". There's no fixed class of people, just who's favored by the regime.

RandomThoughts said...

When I first heard of Gibson's fed troubles, I wonder who was benefitting from them (following the money usually reveals a great deal). I'm not surprised to learn that a Democrat donor is Gibson's biggest competitor and stands to benefit from any curtailing of Gibson's business. I'm disgusted, but not surprised.

Salty said... India does not allow wood to be exported if it is sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced, peeled or more than 6 millimeters thick, the government contends in the court filing. The sawn ebony wood intercepted by U.S. customs agents in Dallas was 10 millimeters thick.
So they brought in wood that was more than 60% larger than what was allowed.

- Initial customs documents for the shipment falsely described the wood as veneer, less than 6 millimeters thick and finished parts of musical instruments, according to the court document. In other words, the shipping documents were false.

- In addition, rather than listing Gibson as its ultimate consignee as required, California-based Luthier Mercantile International initially was declared to be the final destination for the wood, agents reported. So they also lied about where it was going.
So Gibson:

- Lied about the size of the wood.

- Lied about what was in the containers.

- Lied about where it was going.

LadyLiberty1885 said...

I am noting a trend over the last 6-9 months of the DOJ going after odd cases. When you look at the common denominator, they all contributed largely to GOP candidates in 2010's election cycle.

This is punishing your enemies and making sure you deplete their cash so they cannot use it in 2012 the way they did in 2010.

I recommend picking up the DOJ website's daily feed.

directorblue said...


Could you point me to your recommended feed(s)? Looks like to be a lot of them on the DOJ site.

Anonymous said...

OK- so Gibson lied about what and where they were importing this Indian Rosewood and got in trouble for it. How is this a major attack on Republicans? When you say fueled by stupidity, to whom are you referring.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised at the violent threatening posts of the tea party fools and gun toting morons, it's sad but to be expected. Regulations are in place for many reasons. Most are intended for consumer safety and protection of the environment. The deforestation of the Brazilian forests is a serious problem. This being said some regulations can be too stringent at times even if unintentionally so. But to link regulation with Marxism or Nazi fascism is sick and stupid. To politicize the seizure at Gibson is also ridiculous. Gibson has plenty of resources and legal counsel to fight this if it is indeed an unfair or illegal seizure. The 2012 elections will not be the reckoning for Liberals and Progressives, in fact I believe most of the now highly unpopular Tea Party politicians will be defeated when the come up for reelection (Rick Scott for example). Wait and see.

Anonymous said...

The Federal Empire SWAT teamed Rock and Roll !!!

Holy Elvis! What is next? Are the going to down the street and SWAT team Sun Studios?

They went to Memphis, the home of rock and roll and then to Gibson guitars.
The people paying the bribes to American congressmen and judges surely hate America and the freedom of expression that Rock and Roll represents.

To the federal stormtroopers: Please , wake up and see how these oversea vampires have sucked the soul out of you. When they fly federal agents into Memphis for an ARMED raid instead of just picking up the phone and making a polite request for compliance inspection, you must stop taking their easy money.
You probably started your law enforcement to do something good and heroic. When you SWAT team Rock and Roll you have sunk lower than crack head. Wake up. Ask your commanders to first make peaceful respectful contact with honest businessmen before they send you in to look like the evil traitor to the Constitution. Remember, you signed up be a hero, to do something good for your world.

Rignerd said...

So what relief is going to come in 2012? No matter who you elect the law is on the books. It will stay there forever if history is any guide. Beyond changing the executive, we have to change the culture.

LDS said...

How about keeping "tabs" on those, um, assault weapons you handed to violent drug cartel tools, you vile mutants!!! GIBSON? Are you freakin' Kidding me? HOLDER has Border Agents' blood on his hands, and y'all are chasing wood. Time to fret, let the REAL shredding begin. FAST AND FURIOUS! Get off the distraction tactics.. We're on to that game, and you're losing it..ON WITH THE REAL CRIME..HOLDER AND OBAMA you'refeda just putting off doing time...SLIME.

jwpegler said...

Sorry, but this is completely wrong.

Gibson makes electric guitars. Martin makes acoustic guitars.

They are not competitors, at all.

Gibson's main competitors are Japanese companies like Ibanez.

I'm a guitarist, so I understand this.

However, as I pointed out here, Gibson's CEO did indeed give money to Mike Huckleberry in 2008 so I do believe that the raid was politically motivated. The Obama administration is simply ensuring that Gibson's CEO has a more "balanced approach" to campaign donations in 2012.

Chuck Lee said...

The Gibson J-45, 1934 L5 and the Western Classic Prewar. Are the best acoustics made.

BS Footprint said...

And this is how freedom dies (died).

Malum prohibitum. What a ridiculous 'law'. Regardless of what the paperwork said, the law is just ridiculous. No amount of justification can cover up the basic stupidity of the whole situation.

It'll be an interesting decade, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...


These are all technical infractions or paperwork errors. For that, they get raided and shut down?

Land of the free and home of the brave my f*cking ass.

Anonymous said...

Gibson's paltry donations mean nothing. You may argue that Gibson is not a direct competitor of Martin, but Martin is a HUGE contributor and he's in ... PENNSYLVANIA.

There's no reason for even the politicized justice department to go after Gibson, but going after one of Martin's competitors, that tells them to keep feeding the DNC all that sweet money.

Considering that the CEO inherited the business, he's the perfect mark.

Shivver said...

Can someone with some legal background explain to me how Fish and Wildlife came to be the lead agency on this? If it is indeed a smuggling case, as one of the other posters said it was, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the investigative branch of ICE, should have been investigating this, not Fish and Wildlife. It is my understanding that they are the only ones, along with CBP, that have jurisdiction in Customs matters. Since CBP doesn't do investigations, HSI would be the agency tasked with the investigation.

That being said, if the allegations are true it's not a mere paperwork snafu. If Gibson purposely misrepresented what they were bringing in and who the consignee was, they deserve to have the book thrown at them. Customs fraud is a big deal. If we cracked down on all of the false declarations and collected the correct duties on products coming into this country we could pay down the debt in five years without raising taxes (not my words, the words of an agent who has worked commercial fraud for 10 years).

jwenting said...

Except of course that C.F. Martin co. is NOT a big competitor for Gibson.
Gibson is mainly in the market of producing electric guitars, Martin produces acoustic guitars almost exclusively.

The main (US) competitor of Gibson is Fender, the main (US) competitor for Martin is Taylor.

That's where Doug's entire argument falls down as to who's to blame for the seizure. Though it is indeed very shady as to why it happened, it's hardly surprising that it did.
Gibson has been battling over a prior unjustified seizure of their stock by the US government for years, and have been strongarmed by DoJ goons and other government forces ever since. This is just another episode in that ongoing battle between a justice department intent on not letting anyone get away with criticising them and a company that wants to get its property (worth millions) back that was effectively stolen from them.

The Lacey act is also nothing new. It's been used to start laughable criminal investigations against businesses and individuals for a long time. The only reason it hits the news now is that it's this time a large company with a good PR department that gets hit and not some local importer of small quantities of imported foodstuff.
It also has nothing to do with Obama, the situation predates his presidency and so does the law.

Turd Ferguson said...

I find myself agreeing with almost everything the author says, but I don't see how throwing democrats out and replacing them with republicans solves this silliness. This type of chicanery has proceeded unabated throughout my entire life as well, a span that includes three republican presidents, the Contract With America, the Ken Starr witch hunt that was Clinton's second term, etc.... What I feel we need is a REAL change in the power structure. Both parties are clearly corrupt to the core. Time for them to go away.

Anonymous said...

India doesn't allow rosewood larger than 6mm thick? Thats a crock. Indian rosewood Bridge blanks for classical guitars are well over 10mm thick, I use them all the time.They NEED to be over 10mm thick. The company I get my wood from is owned by an Indian who has am operation in India. I don't know where this 6mm number came from, but that makes every classical guitar built on the frigging planet illegal. Oh and btw, my supplier also sells to gibson. I had a stack of rosewood fingerboards and some were 10mm thick, and THEY came from another guitar manufacturer.

Why wasn't martin raided when they sold that boatload of Brazilian rosewood to PRS a few years back. Really, defending this is really nothing more than being a limp dick apologist for the corrupt obama regime.

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Billy Beck said...

jwpegler: "Gibson makes electric guitars. Martin makes acoustic guitars.

They are not competitors, at all.

Gibson's main competitors are Japanese companies like Ibanez.

I'm a guitarist, so I understand this."

{hah!} Well, you ain't *much* of one. I've been playing since 1969. Right now, I have a half-dozen electric guitars, and if you think that's all there is to it, then you're just about qualified to play kazoo on the street outside my band's rehearsal space.

And: you know nothing about economics, while you're at it. Go see if you can find the distinction between "direct" and "indirect" competition.

Anonymous said...

Gibson's troubles have everything to do with Obummer and Holder. Holder got his criminal credentials in the Klinton administration. Gibson is non-union. This my friends is how thuggery works. This is the face of marxism.

Anonymous said...

This is Napoleonic law. What is Napoleonic law? You are guilty until proven innocent. This is directly apposite of American law. What is American law? You are innocent until proven guilty.

Those who enforced such unconstitutional laws and regulations should, individually, be held accountable, in our judicial systems, for trampling on Americans freedom. This would bring personal accountable to those breaking the law.

Please read Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson; Opening Statement Before the International Military Tribunal Nuremberg, GermanyNovember 21, 1945; The law of Individual Responsibility. You can find it at:

Anonymous said...

That's it! I along with several million Americans are taking our Bently cars to the junk yard.

Anonymous said...

I have two Martin guitars with Indian Rosewood and ebony finger boards, if it is true that the Martin CEO is a Democratic doner and is not being harassed by feds, I think that is time for a boycott of Martin guitar!

I hope that Gibson locks up shop in the US and moves it's operations to India so all of the wood work is done there. Obama is about destroying jobs in the US, except for his supporters. When government and business join, it is called facism.

Anonymous said...

Hey you! Wake up and smell the coffee. While you are fussing over Gibson's problems, Eric Holder and his corrupted crew quietly put the blame for Fast and Furious on one of the underlings and are trying to put the whole stinky story away from the public eye without even slapping Holder's hands. I have learned that you don't watch the news in front of you, especially if it is not really a news item, but you watch behind you and start digging online to find out what Obama and his crew are trying to sneak under the radar or slip past the public eye...Just sign me, older, wiser and smelling the coffee now.

Anonymous said...

One question nobody has asked so far: Are Gibson employees part of an organized UNION or not. I ask this because of the situation in S.C. with Boeing.

Anonymous said...

This is identical to what the FDA and Big Cancer did to Dr. Burzynski in Texas...trying io put him out of business...checkout Burzynski the movie...for the uninformed you will be shocked and disgusted.

slowtojudgement said...

Great post... if only your premise were true. The only problem with this headline is it is not the type of wood which made the shipment illegal. Here is some more info if you are interested:

Anonymous said...

Jim Demint is a republican and one of the authors of this amenment to the lasey act. This amenment was bought and paid for (through political contributions)AKA lobbiest for forestry, wood products that can't compete in quality or price. The only way this can be enforced is thruogh selective inforcment, because anyone that uses paper for their copier needs compliant paper work. sorry about bad spelling & puncuation

Anonymous said...

This article makes assumptions and accusations without even a glance at the details of the actual case. The government's case in NOT built on what you claim--that Gibson imported raw wood instead of wood finished in its source country. The reality is instead, according to

"...a court motion filed in June asserts Gibson's Madagascar ebony was contraband. It quotes emails that seem to show Gibson taking steps to maintain a supply chain that's been connected to illegal timber harvests.

Andrea Johnson, director of forest programs for the Environmental Investigation Agency in Washington, says the Lacey Act requires end users of endangered wood to certify the legality of their supply chain all the way to the trees. EIA's independent investigations have concluded that Gibson knowingly imported tainted wood."

Your article thus makes accusations that are based on an inaccurate view of the cause for the raid.

Anonymous said...

You all realize it was the bush administration that started the investigation of gibson in the first place. Fucking morons. You call for execution and war . I do think ever hear Democrats talking like that,just you crazies. Fucking loons