FBI whistleblowers say the bureau probed parents critical of woke school boards as domestic terrorists, in a claim that may contradict Attorney General Merrick Garland’s denials, according to two GOP lawmakers.
Reps. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, and Mike Johnson, of Louisiana, say “brave whistleblowers” have come forward to say the bureau opened multiple probes all over the country as parents protested mask mandates, Critical Race Theory instruction, and other woke policies. In a letter to Garland, the lawmakers cited an internal email from the bureau’s criminal and counterterrorism divisions.
“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 lawmakers wrote in the letter dated Wednesday. “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.”
Whistleblowers: The FBI has labeled dozens of investigations into parents with a threat tag created by the FBI's Counterterrorism Division pic.twitter.com/STlLdrfbMz
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 11, 2022
Last October, Garland directed the FBI’s counterterrorism bureau to track alleged threats against school boards after the National School Boards Association called on the White House to probe parents who allegedly threatened boards over woke policies and curricula. The directive prompted outrage from conservative groups who said concerned parents were being treated as domestic terrorists.
Garland, in sworn testimony before the Senate in October, assured lawmakers his memo did not instruct the bureau to open up investigations into local matters involving school boards and parents. The National School Boards Association apologized for its role in the affair amid accusations it had colluded with the White House to sic the DOJ on parents.
“All [the memo] asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with, local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, strategize about what may or may not be necessary, provide federal assistance if it is necessary.”
According to Jordan and Johnson, the FBI labeled “dozens” of investigations with the threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS,” which the lawmakers say contradicts Garland’s congressional testimony denying parents were targeted under procedures reserved for counterterrorism.
One alleged probe was launched after the FBI got a tip that a mom had threatened her local school board. The tipster “alleged that the mom was a threat because she belonged to a ‘right wing mom’s group’ known as ‘Moms for Liberty,’” and owned a gun. An FBI agent interviewed the unidentified woman.
In another case cited in the lawmakers’ letter to Garland, the FBI interviewed a tipster who admitted he had “no specific information” of any threat, but complained that a man who was opposed to a local school mask mandate “fit the profile of an insurrectionist.” The FBI opened an investigation into the man, according to the lawmakers.
Jordan and John son also alleged that the FBI opened an investigation into Republican elected officials in an unidentified state simply because Democratic Party officials there accused Republicans of inciting violence “by expressing public displeasure with school districts’ mask mandates.”
In each of the cases Jordan and Johnson cited, the bureau ultimately determined no crimes had been committed. Still, the lawmakers said, the revelations show how Garland’s DOJ was used to target concerned parents and their right to freedom of speech.
“This whistleblower information is startling,” they wrote. “You have subjected these 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.
“This information is evidence of how the Biden Administration is using federal law enforcement, including counterterrorism resources, to investigate concerned parents for protected First Amendment activity.”