Loudoun County school board member Beth Barts, whose advocacy for a politicized K-12 education triggered an online crusade to “hack” and “expose” non-compliant parents in the semi-rural Virginia district, made a Facebook post which showed that she participated in the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County group during a period in which she told police she did not visit it and was therefore unaware of its activities — and that post appears to have been deleted by the time police obtained the group’s posts under subpoena.
The now-infamous saga began when Barts wrote on March 12 to a private group called Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County that “I am very concerned that this [anti-] CRT ‘movement’ for lack of a better word is gaining support.” Two days prior, Barts had been stripped of all committee assignments for aggressive behavior towards parents and colleagues. “It is difficult for me to bring attention to it without calling out specifics which may violate our code of conduct,” she continued in a message around 8:30 a.m.
Group members appeared to take this as a cue to do what she could not and assembled a list of parents who opposed coronavirus school closures or Critical Race Theory or who were simply insufficiently “anti-racist,” sometimes including their employers, spouses, or areas of residence.
The activists, though claiming they merely wanted to “educate” people who disagreed with them, was actually paranoid that such people would see their statements at all, and was constantly on the hunt for “moles.”
Around 2:30 p.m. that day, group member Jen Morse, who issued the call to “hack” and “expose” parents, wrote, “Like all bullies, they’re scared f***ing babies. GOOD. STAY SCARED.”
A screenshot shows that Barts wrote moments after: “Hi mole! I would have posted in here earlier if I’d known it would make you all and your hateful social media outreach disappear.”
Morse then responded, “They won’t disappear–they’ll regroup and resurface. Let’s get ahead of them.”
On March 16, The Daily Wire broke the story of the Facebook group’s doxxing campaign, and the story included the fact that the Loudoun County sheriff’s office had opened an investigation into the group because of its pledge to hack opponents.
On March 24, detectives interviewed Barts at her home, where she said that “She went on the site and asked for advocacy to share that LCPS is not supporting critical race theory,” describing her early-morning post. “She said that she did not go back on the group until the next morning,” a police report says, implying that Barts’s position was that she had no idea her comments had triggered a witch hunt. “She said that she does not condone making lists and would not be a part of that.”
On March 19, a search warrant had been submitted to Facebook for postings involving the group, and Facebook provided data pursuant to a search warrant on April 20 and April 26. But Barts’ comment is not in the records included in a police report, implying that it was deleted by the time Facebook exported its records.
It is unclear when the post was deleted, but records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that Barts was reminded of, and was unrepentant about, the post in question on March 22, just two days before her statements to detectives.
That night, a resident sent Barts’s now-deleted comment to the whole school board, saying “I have sat on this for over a week because I was honestly afraid that this group would gather my information and do, well, I’m not sure… Please look at the language. The taunting. This is not how responsible adults act. This is hateful, angry and righteous behavior.”
Barts forwarded it to school board chair Brenda Sheridan minutes later and doubled down. “I am allowed to share my thoughts in private groups as long as I don’t speak for the whole [board]. I made sure I had that disclaimer. I did not give out any names or ask for anything other than help calling out false statements. I also called out hate. I am allowed to be an anti-racist in 2021 and be on the school board,” she wrote.
Barts did not respond to questions from The Daily Wire including whether she forgot about the afternoon post when speaking to detectives two days later and whether she deleted it after learning of the criminal investigation.
The sheriff’s office ultimately closed the criminal investigation, saying “asking someone to hack is not illegal and that we would need a furtherance of the act. At present we do not have information that anyone has been hacked.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported in a story on that closure, the deleted comment is not the only evidence that Barts visited the Facebook group during the period covered by her statement to police; she also posted other comments that were present in the records subpoenaed by Facebook.
But the timeline of when she deleted the post could also have additional implications.
On March 23, a conservative group called the Virginia Project delivered a litigation hold letter to Barts, according to the political action committee. Virginia Project later reportedly sued an administrator of the Anti-Racist Parents group for defamation over purportedly claiming “As a matter of fact, the Virginia Project, who has been a vocal force in this, is spurring other people to threaten us. … We’ve been threatened with kidnapping.”
Ian Prior, a local parent who was placed on the enemies list and later founded the advocacy group Fight For Schools, told The Daily Wire, “Why would Barts delete her comment? Because it unambiguously proves that she was using her official role to encourage her allies to deprive Loudoun residents of their First Amendment rights.”
He pointed to a Virginia law that makes it illegal for a public official to “destroy any record… in his keeping and belonging to his office” under punishment of being “forever incapable of holding any office of honor, profit or trust under the Constitution of Virginia.”
“Given that Barts’s initial post stated that she was providing her opinion as a school board member and that opinion was on school related issues, how is her Facebook post not a record in her keeping and belonging to her office?” he said.