Cooper describes law applied to Gibson Guitar as 'way too broad'

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 2:28pm


Congressman Jim Cooper joined the defenders of Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp. Monday, saying the law that makes certain imports of wood illegal is “way too broad.”

Also Monday, Lt. Gov.  Ron Ramsey called the federal raids of the guitar maker “downright scary” and “abhorrent.” In a commentary on his Facebook page, which he titled “The Criminalization of Free Enterprise,” Ramsey suggested the Obama administration might have targeted Gibson because its chief executive officer, Henry Juszkiewicz, has made donations to Republicans.

“In fact, the only beef the Obama administration could really have with Gibson Guitars is the political habits of its CEO,” Ramsey wrote, adding: “I hope this is simple coincidence and not something more sinister.”

Federal agents raided Gibson factories in 2009 and again on Aug. 24, confiscating guitars and wood. The Justice Department is pursuing a possible criminal case against Gibson for importing ebony from Madagascar for guitar fingerboards.

Cooper  said his office is looking into how to tighten the law that investigators are trying to use against Gibson. That’s the Lacey Act, which bars the purchase of wood and other goods exported in violation of a foreign country’s laws.

“In theory, anybody who travels across the state line with an old guitar is in legal jeopardy,” Cooper, a Democrat, told reporters. “You make all these magnificent instruments unsellable and untransferable and unshippable. The most famous violins in the world are Stradivarius violins. I’m sure all of those violate the law. You can’t sell a Stradivarius violin anywhere. This is just like way too broad.”

Gibson has become a cause célèbre of the Tea Party and conservatives, who see the company as a victim of an out-of-control federal government. With Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Juszkiewicz attended President Obama’s jobs speech to a joint session of Congress last week.

“If Gibson Guitars has broken the law, they must pay required penalties,” wrote Ramsey, a Republican state senator from Blountville. “But the resources which have been brought to bear and the manner in which this company has been targeted amounts to a classic case of overreach and overkill.

“In an ever increasing competitive global economy, the federal government should be looking for ways to assist and nurture American businesses — not seek to criminalize companies who provide high-paying jobs to American workers.”


18 Comments on this post:

By: shinestx on 9/12/11 at 4:16

I cannot believe Nashvillians are stupid enough to keep electing Jim Cooper.

By: zebrotha on 9/12/11 at 7:39

Where are all the country music voices telling the overbearing, obnoxious, repressive Obama/Holder team to keep their conniving fingers off America's businesses, its people and its guitars. Expected a few to live up to their songs about freedom.

By: pswindle on 9/12/11 at 9:41

The law is the law. This is a Bush law.

By: mayorofstcharles on 9/13/11 at 7:46

and this is why Ron Ramsey will be nothing more than a Lt. Governor.

By: BenDover on 9/13/11 at 8:11

Our laws are so broad and contradictory that we are all felons in waiting... waiting until we p*ss off the wrong bureaucrat.

"You will respect my Authoritah!!!"

By: CoyoteCrawford on 9/13/11 at 8:11

It’s kind of funny. Cooper and Blackburn are members of congress whose job is to create laws. Obama manages the executive branch. The executive branch enforces the laws that congress passes. If this law is so bad, it sounds to me that Blackburn and Cooper are the ones who are not doing their job. It’s the people who are making this a political issue that makes me question their intent and innocence.

By: rbull on 9/13/11 at 8:31

This is just another reason to get rid of all the current Congress and for sure this corrupt Barack Hussein Obama.

By: BenDover on 9/13/11 at 8:51

Obama has already acknowledged he picks and chooses the laws he will enforce or not based on political priorities. His justice department says that voter intimidation by blacks against whites is not racist and Obama himself is enacting the 'dream' act by executive fiat.

This Machiavellian mentality that never questions their premises of righteousness permeates the whole administration.

By: slim4520 on 9/13/11 at 9:20

@shinestx: What’s your point? This article is about Jim Cooper’s reaction to what he perceives as an overreach of the federal government and all you can do is accuse Nashvillians of being stupid for electing him? Is there some relevance in there somewhere?

@BenDover. 100% agreed. Too many laws, so many that sometimes the left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing. In this case Gibson has shown that it had every reason to believe that the sales were legal, yet they still get raided. Unbelievable.

The article doesn’t convey that this was an alleged violation of HOW wood is imported in to the U.S. The Feds assert that the wood is “sawn timber”, whereas the law in question mandates that certain imported woods be “finished” in the exporting country. The sales were approved by the respective governments of the export countries, even though U.S. officials contend that those governments were given false information regarding the status of the wood. Yes, this is definitely an overreach and dollars to doughnuts says the courts will throw this out. Jim Cooper is right.

By: shinestx on 9/13/11 at 11:05

@slim4520: Ohhhhh! About Mr. Stupor Cooper, well let's see. First, there is the University of Minnesota study in 2006 that concluded voters of "Yellow Dog" Democrats (e.g. those with conservative reputations) on average have attained the lowest level of education of all groups of voters, followed by the classic split of low education and very high education for liberal candidates, followed by average to above average education levels for conservative GOP candidates, followed by the highest average level of education for those who claimed to be "independent" or "moderate". Based on that study alone, one can conclude that Nashvillians are stupid.

But there's another way to make the same conclusion. It is based on the assumption that (as voters for a Democrat) these people who keep electing Mr. Stupor Cooper do so with an eye toward getting "more from the government". Well, those numbers tell us that Davidson County voters are quite stupid, as Mr. Cooper has failed to bring home the so-called goodies (e.g. meager flood relief; no funding for a proposed and GSA-warranted new federal courthouse; no federal funding for mass transit, etc.).

Finally, it shouldn't be necessary to mention this, but still too many Davidson voters are ignorant of the fact that Mr. Stupor Cooper's reputation for being a "fiscal conservative" is a grand hoax, as a fiscal conservative never would have voted for the $1 trillion Obamacare.

By: bartsdad on 9/13/11 at 11:57

pswindle said it best...'it's a Bush law'.
"Ramsey wrote, adding: “I hope this is simple coincidence and not something more sinister.”...sounds like trying to grab or CREATE a headline.

By: BenDover on 9/13/11 at 12:08

Nashvillians are not stupid. Cooper's district is just gerymandered such that only a democrat can win. As for liberals being 'highly educated' I'll refer back to Reagan's oft. repeated quote, "It's not that our Liberal friends are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so".

By: Nitzche on 9/13/11 at 12:52

the ole Bush fault ,his law??how original jim cooper, wow he actually stood up for something?

By: shehane64 on 9/13/11 at 1:37

pswindle, how is this a Bush law? It was passed in 1900. Was there a Bush in the office then? Could have sworn it was McKinley.

By: shinestx on 9/13/11 at 1:53

Just a reflex from our Dem-witted friends: Everything's Bush's fault.

By: T-BONE on 9/13/11 at 9:33

MAYBE THAT "LAZY EYED" cowboy boot wearing hayseed RAMSEY should move to TEX-ASS so he can lick Rick "born again" PERRY's arse and help him succeed Tex-ass from the union!

By: pswindle on 9/14/11 at 8:37

The law was amended in 2008 and Bush signed it.

By: macjedi on 9/14/11 at 11:28

Shame on you, Cooper. The CEO is a scofflaw. He is not an artist. He is there for the cash, and trying to cut every corner. Nobody speaks well of the company as a "nice place to work". They ignore qualified resumes. And, as pointed out, BUSH.... signed the amendment.

THUS... Stand up for smart regulation. Let Republicans swim in the pee-filled-pool they are stuck with. Stand up for environmental concerns. And if you wanna change something, then change it instead of taking this clown's side.