House Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, head of the Judiciary subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government, has subpoenaed the Education Department and FBI for documents concerning alleged counterterrorism investigations of parents protesting at school board meetings across the country. Federal authorities have disputed the allegations.
The Friday subpoenas went to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and FBI Director Christopher Wray for information arising from a 2021 memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The subpoenas are part of far-reaching investigations Republicans in the House have opened into the Biden administration.
White House spokesperson, Ian Sams, said Jordan “is rushing to fire off subpoenas” despite the agencies responding in ‘good faith’ to his requests for information.
“These subpoenas make crystal clear that extreme House Republicans have no interest in working together with the Biden Administration on behalf of the American people — and every interest in staging political stunts,” said Sams.
The memo from AG Garland directed the FBI to focus on “threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff” following concerns aired by some groups over the safety of public schools.
However, Jordan, along with other members of the GOP, received information from a whistleblower that the FBI was utilizing a specific “threat tag” to track potential investigations.
Rep. Jordan is seeking FBI documents about launching investigations into parents who speak out on behalf of the interests of their children at school board meetings. According to the committee, the subpoenas come after more than 100 letters from Judiciary Committee Republicans to officials with the Biden administration asking about using counterterrorism resources against parents.
The committee has set a March 1 deadline for receipt of the documents.
FBI issued a statement saying it is working to respond to requests
The FBI issued a statement saying it is working actively to respond to requests from Congress for information with the voluntary production of documents.
According to the FBI, Wray and other officials have stated on several occasions that the agency “has never been in the business of investigating speech or policing speech at school board meetings or anywhere else, and we never will be.”
“Our focus is and always will be on protecting people from violence and threats of violence,” said a statement from the FBI. “We are fully committed to preserving and protecting First Amendment rights, including the right to free speech. Attempts to further any political narrative will not change those facts.”
Education Department spokesperson, Roy Loewenstein, said the department responded earlier this week to Jordan’s letter.
“The Department remains committed to responding to the House Judiciary Committee’s requests in a manner consistent with longstanding Executive Branch policy,” said Loewenstein.
Wray and Garland each testified at congressional hearings about the school board memo and disputed the GOP interpretation of the memo. AG Garland said he was concerned about threats of violence and violence, offering federal assistance if needed to local authorities.
“We did not sic the FBI on parents,” said Garland to the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.