Bethany Blankley (The Center Square).
Despite sworn testimony by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that the U.S. Department of Justice isn’t targeting parents after he directed the department to do so last fall, a whistleblower has come forward to the House Judiciary Committee providing evidence that the FBI is in fact investigating parents.
Garland was sent a letter by Republican U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan from Ohio and Mike Johnson from Louisiana wrote that they have evidence that contradicts testimony he gave before the committee last year.
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Last October, Garland issued a memo about the “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” directing the FBI and other federal law enforcement agents to monitor activities of parents and school boards nationwide.
In response to the National School Boards Association’s request that the federal government use anti-terrorism tools such as the Patriot Act against parents, he did this. In an Oct. 20 email, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and Criminal Division announced it had created a new threat tag for its internal system to label parents, called, “EDUOFFICIALS,” the congressmen point out in their letter. The email directs all FBI personnel to apply this tag to all “school board-related threats.”
When questioned about the memo by the House Judiciary Committee last October, Garland said under oath, “I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism.”
After the memo was issued, a coalition of attorneys general immediately called on Garland to revoke it and produce documentation related to the memo’s directive. They claim that Garland has not provided any evidence regarding parents making threats to school personnel and that targeting parents by the DOJ is an abuse and violation of Constitutional rights. Their letters and requests for information were not answered. sued in March.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who led the coalition, said, “Rather than cooperate, the Biden administration has sought to conceal and downplay its culpability. They are hiding something, what? Why won’t they come clean?”
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The answer from “brave whistleblowers,” Jordan said, is that the FBI has opened investigations in almost every region of the country related to all types of educational settings.
“The information we have received shows how, as a direct result of your directive, federal law enforcement is using counterterrorism resources to investigate protected First Amendment activity,” the congressmen wrote Garland.
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In one investigation, the FBI opened a file on a mother involved with the Florida-based group Mom’s for Liberty, according to representatives. A file on the mom also shows that she is a legally-authorized gun owner. An FBI agent interviewed the mother, who said she was upset by her school board’s mask mandate and was hoping to replace the school board with new members through the electoral process.
The congressmen also launched an investigation into a father who was against mask mandates. Yet another investigation was launched into a Republican official after a Democrat alleged the official was inciting violence for opposing a school district’s vaccine mandate.
The information, the congressmen said, “is startling. You have subjected these moms and dads to the opening of an FBI investigation about them, the establishment of the FBI case file that includes their political views, and the application of a ‘threat tag’ to their names as a direct result of their exercise of their fundamental constitutional right to speak and advocate for their children.”
Garland was directed by congressmen to supply materials immediately to the committee.
Moms for Liberty founders Tina Descovich, Tiffany Justice, and Tina Descovich created a Statement saying, “This whistleblower letter should be an alarm bell for every mom in our country. Now we have evidence of something many of us suspected, and others knew. The Department of Justice used counter-terrorism authority in the PATRIOT Act for investigating parents of schoolchildren exercising their right under the first amendment to petition the local government to redress grievances.
“We at Moms for Liberty knew first-hand of the first example Jim Jordan cited, because she was – as the whistleblower letter says – one of our members. She was scared. The FBI had contacted her. The FBI had told her not to speak about the call. It was also stated that she would be interviewed by other mothers.
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“Once the federal government uses our own taxpayer money to harness federal resources and federal officials to investigate law-abiding parents who attend public meetings and speak their minds, everyone’s free speech is at risk. We have the right to ask questions of public officials and demand accountability from those in public office.”
Justice and Descovich stated that their group empowers mothers to know their basic rights. But they also warn that while this happened to one of their members, it could also happen “to anyone.”