Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey has written a 700-word Facebook post titled “The Criminalization of Free Enterprise” about the recent federal raids on Gibson Guitars, in which he suggests they were politically motivated.
The raids occurred in late August, when armed agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered three Gibson factories, one in Memphis and two in South Nashville, as well as the company’s executive suite, and removed boxes of documents, company hard drives, pallets of rosewood and ebony, guitars, and guitar necks.
In his Facebook post, Ramsey derides the agency for the way in which the raid was handled.
“I fail to see the need for armed federal agents in a place of business like Gibson,” he writes. “This is not a criminal cartel, it a musical instrument manufacturer.”
According to the search warrant, agents were investigating whether Gibson had violated the Lacey Act, which bans the import of endangered species of plants and animals, by illegally importing hardwoods that had been harvested from rainforests.
However in his post, Ramsey suggests the motivation behind the raid was political.
“The only beef the Obama administration could really have with Gibson Guitars is the political habits of its CEO. Apparently, the head of Gibson has been very generous in his donations to Republican candidates and causes,” the post says. “One of Gibson’s chief competitors on the other hand prefers Democrat candidates. I hope this is simple coincidence and not something more sinister.”
Gibson faced similar accusations following another federal raid in 2009, though no charges were filed in that case and Gibson maintains that they’ve been working with environmental groups like the Rainforest Alliance since then.
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