May 28 2013

Another Sour Note on Gibson Guitar Raids

Charlotte Hays

I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but Investors Business Daily has an alarming story that ties the otherwise inexplicable raid by the government nearly two years ago on Gibson Guitar Corp. to…targeting political enemies.

The ostensible complaint was that the guitar maker was using illegally obtained wood. In one case, the government of Madagascar, where Gibson purchased the wood, issued a statement to the contrary. In the case of another raid, involving wood from India, the guitar company claimed that the feds had misinterpreted the law.  

Maybe we missed something:

Interestingly, one of Gibson's leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin's catalog, several of their guitars contain "East Indian Rosewood," which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson's guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles….

Gibson, fearing a bankrupting legal battle, settled and agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to the U.S. Government. It also agreed to make a "community service payment" of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — to be used on research projects or tree-conservation activities.

The feds in return agreed to let Gibson resume importing wood while they sought "clarification" from India.

It is our own government from which we must now seek clarification. Of course, we won't get it. Surely as I write this morning, there are federal agents waiting to come forward and utter the current federal mantra, “I don’t know.”

But here's one thing we do know: There will always be human beings who will use government's power, whenever possible, to quash political dissent or competition.  

The only solution to this problem is to make government small enough so that it doesn't lend itself to these abuses. 

That is why I am one of those conservatives less interested in a special prosecutor who will tie the IRS targeting to the Obama administration than in a relentless probe of the IRS that will show that the very existence of such an agency is a temptation. (Not that I want to ignore individual malfeasance—I just want to keep the spotlight on why the IRS has too much power.)

The IRS—and the bigness of the IRS—is an essential component of ObamaCare. This is where I hope the targeting scandal will lead us. If the IRS can target the Tea Party, I guess it can also do pretty creative things with our medical records, too.

David Catron has a piece on apparently illegal activity by the “rogue” IRS designed to save ObamaCare. (We should not be surprised that the IRS wants ObamaCare to survive—ObamaCare makes the already far too powerful agency even more powerful!)

Hat tip: AEI’s Mark Perry spotted the IBD story.

Also, don’t miss Jeffrey Lord’s piece on the IRS and “The VanderSlooting of America.” (Frank VanderSloot is the Romney donor who was intimidated by the IRS.)

Speaking only for myself, I would say the loyal opposition should focus not just on any one administration but in eliminating the vast federal power that sits there waiting for the right people—or the wrong people—to come along and abuse it.

President Obama puts a lot of stock in his charm.

But charm alone will not help him transform our country.

He needs the already in place structures of powerful federal agencies to help him achieve this.

The IRS is the cornerstone of ObamaCare.

 

 

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