Two weeks ago, Gibson Guitar Corp. CEO Henry Juszkiewicz went on the offensive before reporters, bemoaning the “overreaching federal government” one day after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents raided his Nashville facility.
On Thursday evening, the Nashville Gibson executive will have a seat in the House gallery as President Barack Obama delivers a highly anticipated address on job creation in front of a joint session of Congress.
Juszkiewicz, quickly becoming conservatives’ poster child for supposed federal government intrusion, is the guest of Williamson County conservative U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, who has chosen to prop up the embattled CEO as the embodiment of a small businessman simply trying to get by.
“Gibson Guitar is at the heart of this jobs debate, and is an example of exactly why President Obama has it wrong when it comes to getting our economy back on track,” Blackburn said in a statement.
“Maybe if the president spent more time finding real solutions to empowering small business owners and less time hindering businesses like Gibson, we’d see more new jobs being created.”
Gibson Guitar took center stage in August when federal agents seized ebony and rosewood imported from India after the celebrated guitar manufacturer allegedly violated the Lacey Act, which in 2008 was amended to prohibit the illegal trafficking of plants and plant products. A year and half ago, a similar raid on Gibson centered on imports from Madagascar.
Juszkiewicz, who has cited a lack of due process, has labeled his company the victim of federal government “bullying.” Blackburn has extended the outcry as a full-out governmental assault against small business.
“While the President is busy delivering speeches, small business leaders like Henry are busy trying to deliver results,” Blackburn said. “The best thing President Obama could do is seek their advice, then get out of the way. Big government doesn’t create jobs, small businesses like Gibson Guitar do.”
In previous comments, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, has said he’s worried about potential “heavy-handed tactics.”
“I’ve contacted The White House and the Department of Justice to find out what’s really going on,” Cooper said the day after the raid.