Give up the Ghosting: DOJ Ignores States' FOIA Request

March 8, 2022

The Biden administration is so good at ignoring problems in hopes they will disappear that it could get adopted into a family of ostriches. But Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) is undeterred. Along with 13 other state attorneys general, he filed a lawsuit against the administration for ignoring Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed last fall. "I didn't use anything that any citizen or person in this country couldn't use," he informed "Washington Watch" viewers. "Ignoring me and thirteen other states, now for five months, thinking that we're just going to get bored and go away... is not going to be the final result."

Politicians sometimes file petty lawsuits and litigate non-issues for years, but Rokita's suit is not of that sort. No, he's going after the Department of Justice for colluding with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to invent a pretext for investigating parents as domestic terrorists. By this point, even the DOJ has to realize they conjured up a pretext no sturdier than a ladder painted on a wall, but they're refusing to budge.

On September 29, the NSBA wrote a now-infamous letter suggesting the administration use domestic terrorism legislation like the Patriot Act to investigate parents "who simply are caring about the raising of their children," said Rokita. The backlash was swift and fierce; by December 8, 29 state school board associations had distanced themselves from the national organization's letter, with 21 withdrawing membership, participation, and/or dues. The NSBA was forced to withdraw the letter.

Even swifter and fiercer, the DOJ piled on. Only five days after the NSBA letter, the DOJ issued a memo to federal prosecutors about using counter-terrorism funding to monitor parents. "The federal government doesn't do anything in five days," said Rokita. The brief timeframe, along with the suspiciously technical language in the NSBA letter, led some people to suspect the NSBA was cooperating with the administration.

Where they saw smoke, there was fire. "Some enterprising parents who grouped together and asked for different [FOIA] requests got an email or two, probably by mistake," said Rokita. They obtained just enough to indicate that administration officials did play a role in drafting the NSBA letter. Rokita's lawsuit with the other state AGs aims to uncover how far the collusion went. According to the lawsuit, "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."

"We want accountability. We want transparency," argued Rokita. "We want to make sure every American understands to what extent this communication or collusion... was being done against regular people who are going to a school board meeting because they cared about their kids." It's almost like the Biden administration views parents as the enemy. In fact, still to this day, "the Department of Justice has not... rescinded that memo," complained Rokita. The NSBA retracted the letter on which the DOJ based its memo, but the DOJ still refuses to give up spying on parents.

"It's got to stop," Rokita concluded. "If we are going to be a country that abides by the rule of law, that means the government is subject to us." The government can't just twist the laws to spy on citizens, then violate the laws to conceal that fact. This isn't the J. Edgar Hoover era anymore.

That's why we've got to stay alert and engaged as citizens. Every elected office is important. As Rokita is demonstrating, even a state attorney general can hold the mighty federal bureaucracy accountable.