(NewsNation) — House Republicans are promising to investigate the Department of Justice and the Department of Education for probes launched into parents who allegedly made threats against school board members.
GOP members confirmed to NewsNation that they would use subpoena power to compel officials to testify under oath if they had to.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was elected the new chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, said he’s aware of about two dozen parents who were visited by the FBI after they were reported to a DOJ task force that was created in the fall of 2021.
The task force was designed to address an increase in harassment and threats against school board members nationwide.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the press release. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
However, Jordan said as far as he knows, none of those parents were ever charged with anything, claiming that the task force was oppressing the free speech of parents who simply wanted to express their opinions at school board meetings.
“Anyone reported on that snitch line, that the attorney general of the United States put in place, gets this designation placed by their name, and then they got a visit from the FBI. If that doesn’t chill First Amendment rights, I don’t know what does,” Jordan said.
But Jordan’s critics say the DOJ was responding to many legitimate threats.
Reuters reported it discovered 220 threats against school board members in a sampling of districts across the country — mostly over COVID-19 policies, gender policies and the teaching of critical race theory.
A school official in Loudon County, Virginia, experienced some of the worst threats, receiving a letter in the mail at her home.
“It’s too bad that your mama is an ugly communist w—-, if she doesn’t quit or resign before the end of the year, we will kill her. But first, we will kill you,” the letter said.
The Virginia school official received another threat a few months later, threatening to “gut” her like a pig.
A threat to board members in Pennsylvania’s Pennsbury School District referenced Hitler and gas chambers, Reuters reported.
The National School Boards Association called the threats domestic terrorism and urged the DOJ to investigate.
The NSBA has since walked back that language, but stood by the request for federal assistance in investigating the threats.
Jordan said they’d certainly want law enforcement to get involved in those situations, but explained the threats should be left to local authorities to investigate and possibly prosecute, not the FBI or DOJ.