RALEIGH — A report issued by a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee found “no legitimate law-enforcement basis” for a memorandum issued by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directing the FBI to investigate parents protesting at school board meetings.
“After surveying local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country reported back to Main Justice that there was no legitimate law-enforcement basis for the Attorney General’s directive to use federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources to investigate school board-related threats,” states the report by the House Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
The subcommittee’s report details information contained in the initial set of materials produced in response to the committee’s subpoenas to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI and the Department of Education (DOE) related to the committee’s oversight of the Biden administration’s use of federal criminal and counterterrorism resources to target concerned parents, according to an executive summary.
Both the FBI and DOE “continue to produce responsive documents while the FBI has produced only 14 pages of documents and permitted an in-camera review of 346 pages to date in response to the Committee’s subpoena — a flagrant disregard of the serious concerns about the Bureau’s misuse of its authorities against parents.”
Highlights from the report included internal communications showing the Biden administration and National School Boards Association (NSBA) “extensively colluded” before Garland issued his Oct. 4, 2021, memorandum.
The report accuses the DOJ of not performing due diligence that would have shown the memorandum “lacked a legitimate predicate” and would have discovered law enforcement described the problem of school board protests as “manufactured.” Additionally, law enforcement apparently warned of “misapplied” federal law-enforcement priorities while state and local officials stood in opposition to federal involvement in school board meetings.
“In response to the Committee’s subpoena, the FBI acknowledged for the first time that it opened 25 ‘Guardian assessments’ of school board threats, and that six of these investigations were run by the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division,” the report says.
The report goes on to state whistleblowers and other disclosures showed the FBI investigated a mother because she belonged to a “right-wing mom’s group” and “is a gun owner,” and a father because “he rails against the government.”
The report also says that per the FBI, “none of the school board-related investigations have resulted in federal arrests or charges, highlighting the political motives behind the Attorney General’s actions.”
“This weaponization of law-enforcement powers against American parents exercising their First Amendment rights is dangerous,” the report reads. “The Justice Department subjected moms and dads to the opening of an FBI investigation about them, the establishment of an 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.”
Republicans on the House Judiciary have called on Garland to rescind his memorandum, but to date, the attorney general has refused to do so.
Two days after the release of the report, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution and Limited Government held a hearing on “Free Speech: The Biden Administration’s Chilling of Parents’ Fundamental Rights.”
Witnesses who testified during the meeting included Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education; Tiffany Justice, co-founder of Moms for Liberty; and Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom, Alliance Defending Freedom.
“I ask you to hold accountable those that violated their oath to the Constitution who trampled on our right to be heard and who sought to use their position of power to subvert we the parents,” Justice told the subcommittee. “The No. 1 indicator of student success is parental involvement. Any action by the government that undermines that jeopardizes the very future of this nation.”
During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY-12) said the use of the counterterrorism threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS” was “nothing nefarious.” He also said the Biden administration was not trying to “chill free speech” but instead the FBI was “doing its job.”
The hearing spanned two hours and is available to view on the U.S. House Judiciary’s YouTube channel.
View all North State Journal reporting on this topic at NSJonline.com under the tag “Garland Parent Memo.”