Committee Leaders Demand Answers On Obama Administration's Hostile Raid of Iconic Guitar Manufacturer

September 9, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Energy and Commerce Committee leaders are seeking answers from Obama Administration officials on the recent government raid of an iconic U.S. guitar manufacturer, Tennessee's Gibson Guitar Corporation. Armed agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently conducted raids of Gibson's corporate headquarters and factories and seized raw materials, guitars, and computer files.  The apparent reason for the raid was to determine whether Gibson was importing wood from India in violation of the Lacey Act of 1900, which makes it unlawful to import certain items taken in violation of the laws of the source country. However, the deputy director general of foreign trade for India has stated that India would allow the exports.  

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are concerned with the hostile treatment of a leading job creator.

In the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Fish and Wildlife Services Director Daniel Ashe, the Committee leaders write, "We are deeply troubled by the suggestion that if Gibson had the skilled work done in India, using the same wood, instead of here in America, then the importation would have been legal and the Department of Justice would not have carried out this heavy-handed enforcement action.  If this is true, it is hard to conclude anything other than the fact that your agencies and this Administration are actively pursuing regulatory and legal policies that discourage job growth in the United States and encourage shipping those very same jobs overseas, through the selective enforcement of laws enacted over one hundred years ago.  This is unwise in the extreme."

The leaders also questioned the Obama Administration's treatment of a leading job creator, writing, "The policies of this Administration should actively support American companies that create jobs at home.  The Gibson Guitar Company appears to have done just that.  The Financial Times, in reporting on the raids, noted:  "˜In recent years, Gibson has hired 600 new workers as the US economy struggled to add jobs.'  While we respect your right to defend the signature legislative accomplishment of President McKinley, we are not so sure this was the proper instance in which to exercise that right."    

For the full text of the letter, click HERE.