MEMPHIS, TN -- Gibson Guitar, under federal investigation for alleged violation of the Lacey Act, has initiated a petition drive requesting President Barack Obama to intervene on its behalf.
Gibson Guitar's open letter to President Obama seeks an end to the current investigation and for the start of negotiations "to a fair and conclusive settlement." The letter also requests the government to return guitars, fret boards, wood and other materials seized in armed raids of the company's plants in Nashville and Memphis last month and in November 2009.
"Gibson has been raided twice by armed government agents, even though the wood has been legally obtained and the company has compiled with all foreign laws," the letter states.
The letter also calls for the Lacey Act to be "amended to provide clear guidance on what unequivocally will satisfy the need to comply with the “due care” and other provisions. This needs to be defined in a realistic and reasonably actionable form. A code of conduct will be provided for when federal agencies do investigations. Recourse will be provided to companies or individuals being investigated who feel the investigating agency is abusing its power, rather than truly seeking justice. There will be due process where an independent third party can adjudicate grievances and insure there are consequences for abuse."
The letter concludes with a request that consumers "not be prosecuted for owning or transporting instruments for their own use."
Congressmen Go to Bat for Gibson
The petition drive comes on the heels of a letter sent by four Republican members of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce demanding information about the investigation of Gibson Guitar Corp. The letter was addressed to heads of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior and Department of Justice requesting that "knowledge of this investigation" be made available to committee members this week.
The signers of the letter include Fred Upton (R-MI), Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Last week Blackburn invited Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juskiewicz to be her guest at President Obama's jobs speech before the joint session of Congress.
"At issue is whether the guitar manufacturer has illegally imported wood from India for use in the construction of its instruments adn whether that importation is in violation of the Lacey Acto of 1900," the letter states. "The source country at issue, however, appears to have no problem with Gibson's actions. The deputy diector general of foreign trade for India has stated that India would allow the exports...
"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 of this (Obama) Administration are actively pursuing regulatory and legal polities that discourage job growth in the United States and encourage shipping those very same jobs overseas through the select rive enforcement of laws enacted over one hundred years ago."
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