Attorney General Garland refuses to ask for ‘ethics review’ over alleged family ties to Critical Race Theory

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WASHINGTON, DC — Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland is being criticized for having a potential conflict of interest that involves the issuing of his recent school-related memorandum that some suggest may benefit his son-in-law’s education company.

Garland’s son-in-law, Alexander “Xan” Tanner, is the co-founder and president of Panorama Education, a Boston-based software and analytical data services company that reportedly assists 23,000 schools in pushing critical race theory (CRT), which many parents oppose.

Panorama Education has denied any affiliation with CRT, saying on its website, “Panorama Education is not affiliated with any particular academic or legal philosophy, including critical race theory (CRT). Panorama is not connected to CRT and it is not a tool for teaching CRT.”

Panorama Education mentions its founders were once “student activists” and states its “mission is to radically improve education for every student.”

Panorama produces data mining surveys for schools, including “equity and inclusion surveys” and conducts “professional development” training in the areas of equity and inclusion for teachers and administrators.

Panorama Education has also been criticized after reports revealed the company recommended teachers read a book featuring an essay written by Bill Ayers, a former designated domestic terror group leader, according to the Washington Examiner.

Washington Examiner noted:

“Ayers was a longtime professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago but is most famous for his leadership of the Communist-inspired Weather Underground, formed in 1969.

“Ayers is married to Bernardine Dohrn, another Weather Underground leader, who is a former law professor and was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. 

“Diana Oughton, then the girlfriend of Ayers, was killed along with fellow terrorists Ted Gold and Terry Robbins when a bomb exploded in their Greenwich Village townhouse in 1970. The explosives were intended for an Army dance at Fort Dix in South Jersey that night.

“The FBI called the Weather Underground a ‘domestic terrorist group’ that claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings. The Weather Underground’s bombing of the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol Building in 1971 caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

“The group also carried out bombings of the Pentagon in 1972 and the State Department in 1975, among many others.”

On Oct. 4, Garland wrote a memorandum in which he requested the FBI to investigate alleged “threats of violence” against school board members, administrators and staff by those who oppose their policies, saying in part:

“The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate. In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.

“Coordination and partnership with local law enforcement is critical to implementing these measures for the benefit of our nation’s nearly 14,000 public school districts.

“To this end, I am directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum.

“These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.”

 

Now, some are questioning whether Garland has a conflict of interest due to his son-in-law’s company.

New York Post reported:

“With contracts in more than 50 of the 100 largest school districts in the U.S., Panorama Education claims to be supporting ‘13 million students in 23,000 schools and 1,500 districts across 50 states.’

“According to OpenTheBooks, a government expenditure library, the company has been hired by school districts in California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming for surveys or training.

“The surveys reportedly give justification for new curricula in schools which parents have recently taken issue with, such as critical race theory.”

In an Oct. 8 letter, three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Garland expressing concern and saying in part:

“On October 4, you issued a memorandum directing the Federal Bureau of Investigations (‘FBI’) and United States Attorneys’ Offices to address purported harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school board members.

“Actual violence, harassment, and threats are criminal activities and must be condemned. Yet your directive to the FBI runs a serious risk of conflating legitimate and meritorious protest by concerned parents with criminal conduct.

“The memorandum implies that parents who protest school boards, including those who oppose the inclusion of critical race theory in elementary, junior high, and high school curricula, may pose a public safety threat. In doing so, the memorandum appears intended to intimidate parents across the country into silence.

“As a matter of policy, this memorandum is extraordinarily concerning, which is why we joined Senator Grassley’s letter on behalf of the 11 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in writing to you about this policy.

“Equally concerning, however, is reporting about an alleged connection between your family members and controversial curricula that will directly benefit from this memorandum and the chilling of speech.”

The letter further pointed out that Garland responded quickly when the National School Boards Association sent a Sept. 29 letter to the Biden administration raising complaints about parents’ protests at school board meetings:

“Then, less than a week later, you issued the memorandum, which will benefit companies like Panorama, whose contracts may be in jeopardy as parents stand up to school boards and demand that their children not be indoctrinated with critical race theory.

“According to the Department of Justice’s (‘DOJ’) Conflict of Interest Policy, ‘An employee may not participate, without authorization, in a particular matter having specific parties that could affect the financial interests of members of her household.’ 

“This policy is to prevent both actual conflicts of interests, as well as the appearance of a conflict of interest. In light of the allegations that your son-in-law’s company may benefit directly from your memorandum, we request that you respond to the following questions no later than October 21, 2021.”

The letter then asks eight questions of Garland, including whether or not his son-in-law still works for Panorama and whether the AG sought the advice from an ethics official or attorney regarding the education company before issuing his Oct. 4 memo.

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On Oct. 21, Garland appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on “Oversight of the United States Department of Justice” on Capitol Hill.

During the hearing, Garland said he has not and will not seek a future ethics review from the Department of Justice regarding his son-in-law’s alleged connection in promoting CRT.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) criticized the Department of Justice and Garland at the Thursday hearing, accusing the AG of creating a “snitch line on parents” via his controversial memo directing the FBI to investigate parent protests against local schools:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, the chairman [Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)] just said the Trump DOJ was political, went after their opponents. Are you kidding me?

“Three weeks ago, the National School Board Association writes President Biden asking him to involve the FBI in local school board matters.

“Five days later, the attorney general of the United States does just that — does exactly what a political organization asked to be done. Five days.”

Jordan referred to Garland’s memo as a “catalyst for a great awakening”:

“I think your memo, Mr. Attorney General, was the last straw. I think it was the catalyst for a great awakening, that is just getting started.”

Jordan later added:

“When the attorney general, the United States sets up a snitch line on parents, Americans aren’t going to tolerate it.

“I think they’re gonna stand up to this accelerated march to communism that we now see. America is going to fight the good fight, they’re going to finish the course, they’re going to keep the faith, because Americans value freedom.”

At one point, Garland conceded that parents should not be classified as domestic terrorists:

“I do not believe that parents who testify, speak, argue with, complain about school boards and school should be classified as domestic terrorists or any kind of criminals.”

However, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) criticized the lack of examples of the “threats of violence” mentioned in Garland’s one-page memo:

“You didn’t cite examples to distinguish legitimate First Amendment activity from criminal activity, nor certainly examples of a nationwide scope or severity of such acts to constitute a rise or spike in criminal activity, would you allege, certainly not one that would warrant nationwide action by the FBI.” 

In other instances, Garland answered questions by saying he did not have enough information or was not familiar with specific information. For example, Garland said he was not familiar with the notorious and widely publicized Loudoun County case in Virginia of a boy who raped a girl in the girls’ bathroom at her high school.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) asked Garland:

“Are you aware that … Loudoun County prosecutors confirm that the boy who assaulted this young girl in Broad Run High School is the same boy who wore a skirt and went into a girl’s bathroom, sodomized and raped a 14 year old girl in a different Loudoun County High School on May 28? Are you aware of those facts?” 

Garland simply replied:

“This sounds like a state case and I’m not familiar with it. I’m sorry.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

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