In light of the series of scandals plaguing the Obama administration, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) called on President Obama Wednesday to give a full explanation behind the 2011 raids on the Gibson Guitar Corp. in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.
The Congresswoman, who serves as Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and several of her colleagues on the committee sent a letter to the Departments of Justice and the Interior Wednesday requesting answers on why the government specifically went after the guitar company.
In her statement, Blackburn said:
“The recent scandals surrounding this administration raise a number of questions about who they choose to target and why. The arrogance and lack of transparency displayed by this President and his cabinet officials in events such as the raids on Gibson Guitar and the IRS targeting of conservative groups show a complete disregard for the rule of law.
“It is clear that this administration made a choice to use excessive regulatory methods to intimidate conservative groups and individuals who disagree with their political ideology. Not only is this wrong, but it is illegal. No one should have to live in fear of their government. President Obama owes the American people a full explanation as to why these decisions were made, and anyone responsible for plotting these politically motivated attacks should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Investigators involved in the raids alleged at the time that the guitar company had violated the Lacey Act, a federal law restricting the importation of endangered plants and animals, by acquiring finished wood products for its guitars from India and Madagascar.
The raids on the guitar company’s Tennessee plants gained national attention two years ago when it was revealed that the company’s CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, was a big-time Republican donor who contributed to the campaigns of Blackburn and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), among others. Many conservative activists believed that Gibson had been targeted for political reasons, and even held a rally in Nashville in October 2011 in support of Juszkiewicz and the company.
Gibson Guitar Corp. ended up paying a $300,000 fine in August 2012 to avoid criminal charges over violation of the Lacey Act.
Last week, Investor’s Business Daily published an editorial suggesting that Juszkiewicz’s Republican leanings had prompted the raids, noting that the owner of one of Gibson’s largest competitors, Chris Martin IV of C.F. Martin & Co., is a major Democratic donor that uses the same imported wood for its guitars yet that company wasn’t raided for violation of the Lacey Act.
“Now the Gibson Guitar raids make sense,” the paper opined.