Tea Party groups across Tennessee are sponsoring a rally in support of Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, who conservatives continue to cast as the victim of alleged federal government intrusion.
Guests include Republican U.S. Rep Marsha Blackburn, conservative radio talk show hosts Steve Gill and Phil Valentine, and Tea Party Express co-chair Amy Kremer.
The rally, dubbed “We Stand with Gibson,” is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8, at Nashville’s Scoreboard Restaurant near McGavock Pike and Briley Parkway. The political event –– not sponsored by Gibson itself –– follows President Barack Obama’s recent address to a joint congress that saw Blackburn bring Juszkiewicz as her guest, propping him up as a small businessman wrongly targeted by the feds.
Information about the rally is available at http://gibsonrally.blogspot.com
“This event is being organized by concerned citizens and groups across Tennessee, and in fact across the US, who are concerned about the extraordinary abuse of power represented by the raid of the Gibson Company by federal agents,” the website reads.
Groups listed as sponsors are 9.12 Project of Tennessee; Gibson County Patriots; Wilson County Tea Party; Tennessee ConserVOLiance; Americans for Prosperity; Tennessee Tax Revolt; Tennessee Tea Party; MidSouth Tea Party; Memphis Tea Party; and the Chattanooga Tea Party.
Nashville-based Gibson took center stage in August when federal agents in Nashville and Memphis seized ebony and rosewood imported from India after the celebrated guitar manufacturer allegedly violated the Lacey Act, which in 2008 was amended to prohibit the illegal trafficking of plants and plant products. Nearly two years ago, a similar raid on Gibson centered on imports from Madagascar.
From the outset, Juszkiewsicz characterized the raids of his company as the act of the “overreaching federal government.”
While Tennessee Republicans and Tea Party groups seized on the politics of the raids, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper has called the Lacey Act “way too broad.”
“In theory, anybody who travels across the state line with an old guitar is in legal jeopardy,” Cooper recently told reporters.
Cooper press secretary Stephen George said Cooper did not receive an invitation to the event.