GOP lawmaker: Administration using ‘excessive regulatory methods’ to silence critics

Federal agents raided Gibson’s Nashville headquarters in 2011 to investigate charges that the company illegally imported wood from India and Madagascar in violation of the Lacey Act. The company eventually paid a $300,000 fine to the Justice Department to settle the charges. 

The Tea Party movement seized on the raid as an example of government overreach, and Gibson stoked the conservative backlash on Twitter with the hashtag “ThisWillNotStand.” Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz called the raid an example of the “arrogance of federal power.” 

Blackburn said the raid on Gibson is an example of the Obama administration trying to “intimidate” its opponents.

“It is clear that this administration made a choice to use excessive regulatory methods to intimidate conservative groups and individuals who disagree with their political ideology,” Blackburn said in a statement. “Not only is this wrong, but it is illegal.”

“President Obama owes the American people a full explanation as to why these decisions were made, and anyone responsible for plotting these politically motivated attacks should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Blackburn said.

The Lacey Act requires companies to certify the supply chain of imported wood back to individual trees. Gibson admitted to buying Madagascar Ebony, an endangered tree, for "fingerboard blanks” used in the production of guitars, according to the Justice Department. The company also admitted to illegally importing rosewood and ebony from India, according to Justice.