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Lacey info

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I got this response from Sen. Lieberman'

s office today... and my response back...

 

 

From: correspondence_reply@lieberman.senate.gov [mailto:correspondence_reply@lieberman.senate.gov]

Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2011 5:07 PM

To: Nick Caruso

Subject: Correspondence from Senator Lieberman

 

 

 

 

December 1, 2011

 

Ms. Nicholas Caruso

 

 

Dear Ms. Caruso:

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding your views on the Lacey Act. I appreciate your position, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

 

Enacted in 1900, the original Lacey Act guarded against the import, export, transport, purchase, or sale of species when these actions violated state, federal, tribal, or foreign law. Originally implemented due to an influx of hunting, the Lacey Act made it a federal crime to ship game killed in violation of one state's laws to another state. Additionally, this law helped enforce the conservation of species and habitats worldwide.

 

An expansion of the Lacey Act came about in 2008, when Congress passed the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (P.L. 110-234). Under the new provisions, the Lacey Act's reach was broadened to include timber and timber products. This expansion was required to combat illegal logging that was undermining responsible forest enterprises by distorting timber markets with unfair competition and price undercutting. Illegal logging also threatened the conservation of forest resources, wildlife, and biodiversity by facilitating forest conversion to non-forest uses and depleting or eliminating certain forest ecosystems, and habitats of certain forest-dependent wildlife. Lastly, illegal logging resulted in a loss of revenue when taxes or royalties were not paid that could otherwise have been invested in sustainable forest management or economic development.

 

The revised Lacey Act has provided further protections for plants, the preservation of U.S. timber jobs, and has served to regulate prices of wood products. However, the expanded powers of the Lacey Act have resulted in increased raids and investigations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Such an example occurred when Gibson Guitar Company was raided under suspicion that it was importing unfinished wood in violation of India's export laws warranting a charge of a violation of the Lacey Act. Gibson Guitar's merchandise and products were forfeited, and no criminal charges have been filed against the company.

 

Debate surrounding this raid led to the introduction of the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness Act (H.R. 3210), which was introduced by Representative Jim Cooper (R-TN). If enacted, this bill would limit the application of the Lacey Act to composite wood products and wood imported prior to 2008, while also allowing an "innocent owner defense," in which an individual would forfeit illegal materials. At this time, no companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate; but I remain concerned that this legislation would repeal many of the powers afforded to the Lacey Act under P.L. 110-234. Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind should such legislation come before the full Senate during this 112th Congress.

 

Thank you again for sharing your views and concerns with me. I hope you will continue to visit http://lieberman.senate.gov for updated news about my work on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. Please contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work in Congress.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Joseph I. Lieberman

UNITED STATES SENATOR

 

JIL:ZJC

 

Sen. Lieberman,

 

As a follow-up. My concerns are really twofold.

 

1. The way this law is enforced seems to have excluded Gibson from due process. They have not been charged, but somewhere around $1,000,000 worth of materials have been confiscated. What happened to “Innocent until proven guilty?”.

2. Gibson claims that they have permission from the Indian government to import this material. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this claim, but if charges are not brought, then they can’t prove this during their “day in court”. As claimed by Gibson the material was not “banned” as such - to protect the resource in India. It was to ensure that Indian laborers get the jobs – the wood was considered unfinished because it was cut into pieces slightly thicker than would be considered “Finished”. Frankly, one reason people pay thousands of dollars for a Gibson guitar is because of the way American craftsmen finish these products. I also find it interesting that many other manufacturer of fine guitars appears to use the same wood, but no one else has been singled out.

 

I hope you take these thoughts into consideration as you explore the issue. I actually agree with you that the proposed legislation Lacey is not a good idea. I think it further complicates an already over-complicated practice. I think the rules for enforcement are more important, as well as taking the discretion away from various departments, and better codifying what is legal and what is not.

 

I am sure this issue is far more complicated than I can appreciate, and I realize it is not the Senate’s responsibility to enforce law, just create it and ensure it is adhered to properly, but it seems that this issue has blown up out of proportion due to the politicization that seems to permeate every aspect of our government these days. I hope you will do what you can to ensure fairness. If Gibson (or any other manufacturer) violates law, they should be punished. However, there does not appear to be a fair application of due process here.

 

Thanks for listening,

 

Nick Caruso

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Very nice!

 

IMO, Gibson should be charged with violating the Lacey Act so they can at least have their day in court. If not, the Feds should give them back their wood and move on. Otherwise its just outright theft by the Feds, considering that at some point thet are going to just auction it off to the highest bidder, which I would think would put the Feds and the recipients in some type of violation of the Lacey act as well.

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Lieberman's response actually bothers me. To his credit he has always supported environmental issues, but he seems too rigid in that area, willing to throw people under the bus if it helps him stand on his principles. Full disclosure... I am not one of his biggest fans, but at least he did respond. Sen. Blumenthal did as well. I was more pleased in his response (although it was a while ago and I didn't save it). Both senators were Attorneys General in CT prior to taking senate seats so they do know a thing about enforcement.

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Very nice!

 

IMO, Gibson should be charged with violating the Lacey Act so they can at least have their day in court. If not, the Feds should give them back their wood and move on. Otherwise its just outright theft by the Feds, considering that at some point thet are going to just auction it off to the highest bidder, which I would think would put the Feds and the recipients in some type of violation of the Lacey act as well.

 

I agree, charge them and let them defend themselves in open court, or return the"evidence" and let them get back to business.

on the positive(?) side, Gibson has been releasing some runs that may well be "investment pieces" due to the use of materials out of the norm for them.

 

I really need to get my hands on one of the custom classics.

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yeah, what happens to all the rosewood when all is said and done if Gibson can't get it back?

Most likely made into a bonfire. Also OP, you probably shouldn't be posting your address.

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I'm just up the street in Middletown.

Probably want to remove your address, though.

 

Thanks! I did in one place, but forgot the other... I'll be in Middletown tomorrow afternoon working with the board of Education.

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