Did the FBI target irate parents at school board meetings who raised concerns about local education issues? In his testimony last fall, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vehemently denied that it did. But now in a letter to the Attorney General, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee say they have further evidence that the FBI did monitor parents who spoke up against local school board policies.
The evidence they say comes from whistleblowers within the FBI who reveal that the FBI, through its Counterterrorism Division, created EDUOFFICIALS “threat tags” to monitor angry parents at school board meetings. The FBI’s leads allegedly came from an FBI-created “snitch line” used by opponents of the parents.
Here are two examples of how the FBI followed up on these tips.
The FBI interviewed a mother who belonged to the group Moms for Liberty for reportedly telling a school board “we are coming for you.” The mother told investigators she was just warning school officials that they could be replaced in an upcoming election, according to the letter. The complaint from a tipster reportedly said she was a threat because she “is a gun owner” and a member of a “right wing mom’s group.”
A father was also investigated by the FBI because he reportedly “rails against the government,” “believes all conspiracy theories,” and “has a lot of guns and threatens to use them,” which “fit the profile of an insurrectionist,” the letter said. In an interview with authorities, the person complaining about the father reportedly admitted they had “no specific information or observations of … any specific crimes or threats.”
Getting federal law enforcement into the business of targeting concerned parents stems from a letter last fall from Viola Garcia, the president of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Previously reported by CBN News, in her letter Garcia referred to dissenting parents as “domestic terrorists” and asked the Biden Administration to examine whether perceived threats to board members over mask mandates and issues like “critical race theory” required a federal investigation.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the letter was coordinated with the Biden Administration prior to its release.
“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” Garcia’s letter reads.
The letter greatly upset other members of the NSBA who were not consulted on it, and who later apologized for it noting that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”
As for Viola Garcia, she was then appointed by the Biden Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) just two weeks after her shocking attempt to target parent protesters. According to its website, the NAGB assesses what the nation’s students know and can do in subjects such as mathematics, reading, science, and writing.
Just days after Garcia’s letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland in a directive memorandum announced the FBI would start looking into what he called “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
Since then, Republicans in Congress have demanded he retract the memo that ordered the FBI to start investigating parent protesters. He has thus far refused to do so while stating that “the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in the schools,” he said. “That is not what the memorandum is about at all, nor does it use the words ‘domestic terrorism’ or ‘Patriot Act.'”
But in the most recent letter from House Republicans, they call on Garland again to rescind his October directive, saying that because of his memo, the Counterterrorism Division, in an FBI-wide email, created the EDUOFFICIALS threat tag and directed that “all FBI personnel apply it to school board related threats.”
“We have learned from brave whistleblowers that the FBI has opened investigations with the EDUOFFICIALS threat tag in almost every region of the country and relating to all types of educational settings.” The Republican letter goes on to charge that because of the Garland directive, counterterrorism resources are being used “to investigate protected First Amendment activity.”
The letter is signed by Congressmen Jim Jordan and Mike Johnson, both ranking members on their committees, and calls on Garland to provide documents long requested but thus far not provided to Congress, and charges that Garland’s previous sworn testimony is “now contradicted by whistleblower information.”