As Landon covered on Friday, thirteen states have signed onto a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in order to obtain records from FBI surveillance related to crackdowns on parents protesting at school board meetings, especially in the wake of the pandemic. The lawsuit, first reported on by Timothy H.J. Nerozzi at Fox News, is being led by Indiana's Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita, which targets President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, citing a failure to honor FOIA requests.
In addition to Indiana, states include Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
Steve Gray, a former FBI agent who is running as a Republican to represent New Jersey's 4th district, criticized what his former employer has become.
"The FBI’s job is to go out and apprehend real criminals, child molesters, and real terrorists. Instead, they’re harassing hardworking parents who simply don’t want their kids stuck in masks all day being indoctrinated by ideologies that are counter to their values," Gray pointed out in a statement for Townhall. He went on to call it "disgraceful" and "exactly the kind of thing that led me to leave the FBI."
"I didn’t sign up to be part of the enforcement arm of Joe Biden’s political agenda. And that, sadly, is what the FBI has become," Gray continued.
"When it comes down to it, this is why I’m running for Congress, too. Too many Democrats - and, frankly, too many Republicans as well - have been allowing this to happen and even contributing to it. We need strong leaders who can step up and reign this in, because what’s going on is simply un-American," he also shared.
As Townhall has covered, parents were targeted and treated as "domestic terrorists" after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter dated September 29, 2021 to President Joe Biden urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to use federal antiterrorism tools, even the Patriot Act, to target these parents. There was coordination between the NSBA and the White House for the letter. Emails also later revealed that Cardona was the one who solicited the letter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland circulated a memo just five days later, on October 4, 2021. While the NSBA apologized, Garland has not rescinded the memo and has even doubled down.
Failure to comply and answer for such targeting of parents is nothing new for the administration. Last week, Townhall received an exclusive first look at a letter signed by all 19 Republican members on the House Judiciary Committee, putting Garland on notice that they hadn't forgotten about the issue.
The letter mentioned in part that, since October, "House Judiciary Committee Republicans have sent nearly 100 letters to Department components requesting documents and information related to this investigation."
Nerozzi also goes into detail about demands from members of Congress that Sec. Cardona face consequences for the part he played:
Forty-one Republican lawmakers demanded Cardona resign from his post over his apparent links to the NSBA's bombshell letter.
Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., led the letter to Biden, which was first obtained by Fox News, demanding he "immediately fire" Cardona over the "now infamous letter."
"In your inaugural address before the American people you said, ‘to overcome these challenges- to restore the soul and to secure the future of America-requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity,’" the letter reads. "Later you said, ‘unity is the path forward.’"
Parental rights have been a major campaign issue in state and local elections.
Last November, now Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) made empowering parents to affirm their right to be involved in their children's education a big part of his platform. As the election neared, Youngkin overcame poll deficits against former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), who served from 2014-2018 and was running again in 2021, to win with 50.6 percent of the vote to McAuliffe's 48.6 percent.
Exit polls from Fox News found that 25 percent said Critical Race Theory (CRT) was the single most important issue. Among these voters, 70 percent favored Youngkin. Additionally, 72 percent of voters said CRT was an "important" issue.
And, even in the heavily Democratic city of San Francisco, school board members with failed priorities were recalled earlier this month by healthy majorities.
The issue of parents' rights is a priority for House Republicans as a whole. Last November, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rolled out a "Parents Bill of Rights," an effort in partnership with Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN).