Feds Extort Conservation Donation From Gibson Guitar
I’ve posted before about the legal battles between famed guitar company Gibson and the federal government which raided the company accusing them of importing illegal wood from India. The law Gibson supposedly violated wasn’t even about conservation but was rather a bit of trade protectionism that requires woods to be a certain of a certain thickness and finish to ensure that it had been worked on by Indian workers before being exported.
The wood Gibson exported was, allegedly, the wrong thickness.
Regardless, rather than continue to fight the federal government which raided the company multiple times over this inane bit of trade regulation minutiae, costing the company tens of millions of dollars in shut down time, Gibson has chosen to settle the case.
What’s interesting is the terms of settlement. According to The Blaze, the company has agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, forfeit any claim to wood seized by the federal government and “contribute $50,000 to promote conservation of protected tree species.” (Emphasis mine)
Setting aside the merits of this case and whether or not Gibson should have to pony up just to get the feds to quit harassing them, and setting aside the fact that the law Gibson violated wasn’t so much a conservation law as protectionism, who exactly is getting the $50,000 that Gibson must contribute?
“At what point can this be called a shakedown?” asks The Blaze’s Becket Adams. That’s a good question.
There’s no word on which organization will get Gibson’s contribution, but in a case over dead ducks filed by hyper-partisan North Dakota US Attorney Tim Purdon over dead ducks found at oil sites in the state (a case that was ultimately laughed out of federal court) companies were required to make contributions to a federally-managed wildlife fund.
It’s one thing to require companies to pay penalties for breaking the law, but should the government be able to use criminal/civil charges to shakedown companies for contributions to special interest organizations that are, at least in some cases, managed by the federal government themselves?Tags: federal government, gibson guitar, tim purdon