States sue Biden admin over FBI surveillance of parents protesting school boards

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States sue Biden admin over FBI surveillance of parents protesting school boards

Thirteen states have signed on to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking Biden administration records on any FBI surveillance of parents protesting school boards.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a former member of Congress, has taken the lead in the lawsuit against President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, citing a failure of U.S. officials to honor FOIA requests. 

The Indiana attorney general previously demanded all communications and records relating to the FBI’s decision to investigate violent threats against local education officials.

“We just want the facts,” Rokita told Fox News Digital. “Rather than cooperate, the Biden administration has sought to conceal and downplay its culpability. What are they hiding? Why won’t they come clean? Hoosiers and all Americans deserve to know.”

Plaintiffs in the case are Indiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

In this Aug. 9, 2017, file photo, former Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita speaks during a news conference outside of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has taken the lead in the lawsuit against the Biden administration.
Darron Cummings

Cardona solicited the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) much-criticized letter to Biden that compared protesting parents to domestic terrorists and suggested using the Patriot Act against them, according to an email exchange first reported by Fox News Digital. 

The Education Department has denied that Cardona solicited the letter, and the NSBA has apologized for its language comparing passionate parents to domestic terrorists in the original letter.

Days after the NSBA sent its letter to Biden, Garland sent a memo directing the FBI to mobilize in support of local education officials. During testimony before a congressional committee in October, Garland denied using the “domestic terrorist” label.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona delivers remarks at the department's Lyndon Baines Johnson Building on January 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. Cardona laid out the department's priorities almost one year after being sworn in as head of the $64 billion agency.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona delivers remarks at the department’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Building on January 27, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla

“Attorney General Garland testified in Congress that his Memorandum was based on a now debunked and rescinded letter drafted by individuals in the Federal Government (EOP, ED, and DOJ) working with the National School Boards Association (‘NSBA’) dated September 29, 2021,” the lawsuit reads. 

“This letter, from the NSBA to President Biden, called on him to invoke ‘the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism,’ arguing that as ‘acts of malice, violence and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.’”

FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters, on Pennsylvania avenue in Washington, D.C.
The suit demands all communications and records relating to the FBI’s decision to investigate violent threats against local education officials.
krblokhin
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference.Feb. 22, 2022.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference.Feb. 22, 2022.
Nicholas Kamm

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.’”

Fox News’ Matt Leach contributed to this report.

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