Gibson Guitars is in an awkward spot. The manufacturer of some of the world's most famous musical instruments finds itself accused of illegally importing rare hardwoods, first from Madagascar and most recently from India. But after federal agents raided two of the company's factories last week, its CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, has gone on a PR offensive that would make Ted Nugent proud. "It seems to me they are gunning for us. They are just looking for us to make a mistake or do something wrong," he told The New York Times' Arts Beat blog, referring to agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which carried out the raids. As The Atlantic Wire's John Hudson pointed out last week, guitar enthusiasts on message boards have adopted some pretty libertarian politics in response to the investigation, and in his comments since then, Juszkiewicz echoes that sentiment.
Speaking with California radio talk show host Chris Daniel on Wednesday, Juszkiewicz characterized the government's case--that the rosewood and ebony seized in a 2009 raid was harvested in contradiction to Madagascar labor law--as a perversion of the Lacey Act, the 1900 law that outlaws the import of plants and animals produced illegally in other countries. "Mr. Juszkiewicz, did an agent of the US government suggest to you that your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of American labor?" Daniel asked. "They actually wrote that in a pleading," Juszkiewicz replied, in an exchange that's been picked up by right-leaning sites across the Internet.