After a few months of maintaining a relative quiet on the Lacey Act front, Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz visited with Fox News this week to provide an outrage-filled update on his company, which still has not been formally charged with any crimes. Among his main points: Gibson in December ran out of the Indian wood it had left following last year's federal raid and it could have serious repercussions.
Since then, they have had to switch to less desirable alternative sources, or alternative products — including composite materials, which many purists reject. Juszkiewicz fears his company may lose market share as a result.
That's a different tone from Juszkiewicz's assessment in November, when he told Blake Farmer sales were holding up just fine. Also different is the fact that Juszkiewicz, who last fall was strident in his crusade against the government and its enforcement of the Lacey Act, offered the feds a deal — as long as he got back his wood.
A unit of Gibson Guitar has kicked off a program that will support the arts in Nashville by establishing residencies for both established and up-and-coming artists. The first artist chosen is James Willis, who will remain the program's chair after he wraps up his time.
“This program is dear to our heart and it wonderfully combines our love of music and art,” says Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “We believe that having artists here will promote a great symbiotic relationship—and that they will inspire us and, hopefully, we will have the same impact on them.”
The campaign by Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz against the Lacey Act is getting some legislative support from a group of U.S. senators. Kentucky's Rand Paul last week introduced a bill that removes criminal penalties from Lacey Act enforcement and would stop the government from prosecuting companies based on alleged violations of foreign laws.
Paul's press release announcing introduction of the FOCUS Act opines that numerous amendments to the the century-old Lacey Act, including most recently in 2008, "have produced what today is an extremely broad and vague law that contains harsh criminal penalties. Notably, the original Lacey Act, named after Iowa Congressman John Lacey, contained a penalty 'not exceeding two hundred dollars.' There was no provision imposing jail or prison time.
Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz tells Blake Farmer the big flap about the company's alleged noncompliance with the Lacey Act appears not to have made a dent in sales. But with Gibson now using different materials for its fret boards and other components, Juszkiewicz says the company could still face the loss of some customers.
Responding to a government suit that it has knowingly used illegally sourced wood for its instruments, Gibson Guitar this week said in court what it CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has said in public for months: The feds are overreaching both in terms of trying to regulate actions in other countries and in applying the now-controversial Lacey Act.