Tea Partiers rally for Gibson Guitar

A coalition of Tea Party groups and other organizations held a Tennessee rally on Saturday for Gibson, the guitar maker who has become an improbable player in the Washington back-and-forth over government regulations.

Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s chief executive, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express were among those gathered at a Nashville rally, which attracted roughly 500 according to local media estimates.

The rally came weeks after federal authorities raided Gibson’s factories as part of an investigation into whether the guitar company imported illegal wood.

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Since the August raid, Juszkiewicz has pushed for changes in the Lacey Act, the law which makes it illegal to import plants and wildlife in a way that breaks foreign laws. Gibson is suspected of unlawfully bringing in ebony and rosewood, but Juszkiewicz says the Lacey Act is ambiguous and needs to be changed.

“We will fight, and we will make sure other companies do not face bullies with guns,” Juszkiewicz said at the Saturday rally, according to the Nashville Tennessean. “With your help, we will make permanent changes.”

Gibson’s cause has been talked up by Republicans and Tea Party-supporters since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raid, with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) citing the case as another example of Democrats’ regulatory overreach and inviting Juszkiewicz to President Obama’s speech before Congress last month.

“We have illegal immigrants crossing our borders every day. They’re breaking the law,” the Tea Party Express’s Kremer said Saturday, according to Nashville Public Radio. “The government’s not doing anything about it, but yet they’re concerned about these little pieces of wood that are coming into our country across our borders?”

On the flip side, environmental and wood industry groups have pushed back against Gibson and Juszkiewicz, saying he is peddling misinformation and that the Lacey Act saves American jobs.