"Foreign timber companies, Tea Party groups, and Gibson Guitar have turned illegal logging into Republicans' new cause célèbre."
"If you've tuned into any of the major jobs speeches recently or the conservative media's political coverage surrounding them, you've heard about newly minted Tea Party hero, Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. He was sitting in House Speaker John Boehner's box during President Obama's jobs speech. Boehner cited him in his own jobs speech a few days later. According to a count by the nonprofit Media Matters, Fox News has featured his company 24 times in the last couple of weeks.
Juszkiewicz's elevation to conservative celebrity status may seem a little odd: His company is the subject of a civil case brought by the federal government for allegedly importing illegally logged wood. Federal agents recently raided several Gibson Guitar facilities, apparently on suspicion that the illegal imports continue even while the company faces federal action in the original case.
At a time when the GOP has been working overtime to tar the Obama administration for the FBI raid of failed solar panel maker and government loan recipient Solyndra, it raises the obvious question: Why would party leaders associate themselves with a company suspected of committing crimes that not only contribute to horrific environmental destruction and corruption in developing countries -- but also put legitimate American timber growers, manufacturers, and workers out of business?"