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  • DOJ Bullies Gibson into Submission: Will Congress Allow This to Happen Again?

    The Heritage Foundation has been writing about the problems that Gibson Guitar has faced for a long while now. Sadly, Gibson has bowed out of the fight due to bullying by Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors.

    Gibson has been strong-armed into paying a $300,000 fine and a $50,000 community service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and it has forfeited $260,000 in seizures of wood deemed to be not compliant with foreign labor laws.

    This is not a criticism of Gibson Guitar. It has been the victim of egregious overcriminalization and was forced to do what makes the most sense for its business and employees.

    As we have noted in other blog posts, the Lacey Act allows prosecutors to go after U.S. citizens and businesses for violating foreign laws, no matter how remote. Gibson was being investigated by the DOJ because the wood it used in manufacturing its guitars was not finished in India, as required by Indian labor laws.

    There has been overwhelming support for Gibson and pushback against the DOJ’s outrageous prosecution. This agreement is the result of the public outrage that came about because of the work of the overcriminalization coalition and certain Members of Congress. Members of Congress recently introduced the FOCUS Act and the RELIEF Act, which would have undone the part of the Lacey Act under which Gibson was being prosecuted. The DOJ was worn down by the negative media barrage it received for this case.

    Although nobody went to prison and the penalties Gibson suffered were less severe than they could have been, this does not mean that all is well. The fact that the DOJ could leverage the unreasonable penalties of the Lacey Act to bully Gibson into making a large “donation” to their charity pick of the week is a travesty in itself.

    Further, the resolution of this case does nothing to prevent future injustices. Other American companies and individuals are still at risk of DOJ prosecution for violations of obscure foreign laws that they could not reasonably be expected to know.

    The government is most likely banking on this story going away so that the wave of opposition to the Lacey Act dies down. It would be unsurprising if the DOJ returns to arbitrarily prosecuting Americans for violating little-known foreign laws. The next victim of the Lacey Act may not have the resources to combat it the way Gibson did. It is up to Congress to continue its work to remedy this problem, even though this story will no longer be in the news cycle.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to DOJ Bullies Gibson into Submission: Will Congress Allow This to Happen Again?

    1. Lloyd Scallan says:

      By this point in time, every American should recognize the Obama tactic to deal with anyone that does not subscribe to his Marxist ideology. It is directly out of Saul Alinsky's hand book to destory that person or company by any means at hand. This is what Obama has brought to the American people. Use the power of the federal government to force compliance. Can we all realize what four more years will bring?

    2. Oscar Brown says:

      As best as I can see, the first year of the Romney administration is going to be spent , among other ways,
      in turning over the bureaucracy to rid itself of all the statists who disregard the law. It's too bad they can't be
      thrown in prison for breaking the law more egregiously than those they persecuted (no mis-spelling).

    3. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Again a bully tactic by the present DOJ, where was justice for Americans in 2009 when the let the Black Panthers walk on a assault charge of preventing free votes, oh we can close down, or try to an American ICON company. My family of musicians all play Gibson guitars, another blow to American traition from OBAMA

    4. PaulE says:

      Another obvious shakedown of an American business, on highly questionable grounds, just so "settlement money" can be funneled to one or more favored causes of this administration. Just look at where this settlement money is being directed. Don't think for one minute that this hasn't sent a message to the other companies in this industry that they better start "contributing" to the correct political causes or else face a similar action.

      Gibson was put in a lose-lose situation. If they fought the federal suit, the legal bills Gibson would accrue would likely cripple the company. If they lost in court, which was possible as the federal government would request the most liberal justice they could find, then the fines and subsequent appeal process would likely bankrupt the company. So Gibson was forced to choose the least onerous financial hit to get the government off its neck and save the company and its American jobs.

      It's disgusting that the justice system in being used this way to extort money from honest companies to finance a political agenda. This is the kind of nonsense one would expect to see from third-world dictatorship, not the United States of America. People need to wake up real quick in this country.

    5. libertarian jerry says:

      Atlas shrugged. Gibson should have gone Galt.

    6. This is so wrong on so many levels. I'm angry that they choose to highlight one company and not the others here in the USA to go through this type of humiliation and considering that Martin and Fender both use the same wood without reprisal. I hope Eric Holder goes to jail himself some day

    7. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      From the USFWS website states, "The company will pay a $300,000 penalty which will be deposited in the Lacey Act Reward Account; make a community service payment of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for use in the conservation of tree species used to manufacture musical instruments…"

      Regarding the $300K…what happens to the funds that accrue in this reward account? Although it may not be legal, it sounds like a slush fund that could be doled out to politically-favored groups. Why not…the law is already being ignored in other departments?

      Regarding the $50K…while the NFWF may use these funds to conserve tree species, doesn't that allow other funds to be used as campaign contributions or to lobby for tighter environmental regulations?

      This is simply more wealth redistribution that outsources jobs. Maybe Gibson should go all out and set up shop in India to get around DOJ & Lacey.

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