Before the election, President Biden declared that the Department of Justice would assign federal observers in 64 jurisdictions to look out for violations of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws. In theory, these individuals were tasked with protecting the integrity of the electoral system. But their deployment was another example of federal resources being weaponized by an administration bent on suppressing opponents.

Rather than investigating the hundreds of billions of dollars stolen by crypto-fraudsters or stemming the tide of fentanyl flowing through our borders, Justice officials stood ready on Election Day to pounce on incidents of “voter intimidation.”  

These occurrences — no matter how isolated or minor — would then be used to support the false narrative that conservatives represent a grave threat to democracy. It didn’t matter that Election Day came and went with nary a whiff of so-called right-wing extremists seeking to unduly influence voters; the left needed to continue to feed their narrative that conservatives represent an existential threat to our country.

We’ve seen this play before. Last year, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to Biden alleging that parents appearing before school board meetings posed a threat. Soon after, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered all 93 U.S. attorneys to hold meetings with local law enforcement to address the issue. The NSBA used the term “domestic terrorism” to describe the “threats” faced by school officials, and the administration jumped at the chance to attack those who opposed their agenda.

Within weeks, DOJ officials held meetings with law enforcement officials at all levels. Federal, state and local police all convened to determine what role the federal government would play in ensuring the “domestic terrorists” would face justice. A special interest close to the president had demanded action and mobilized hundreds of law-enforcement personnel, including the attorney general and deputy attorney general.

And what threats were uncovered at these meetings? In short, absolutely nothing.

Records released under a Freedom of Information Act request from Landmark Legal Foundation show local and state officials repeatedly telling DOJ that federal intervention was unnecessary and that local police presence ensured safety for all attendees at school board meetings.

In a few isolated incidents, federal resources had been used to investigate reported threats. In Georgia, for example, the Joint Terrorism Task Force deployed to examine what ultimately turned out to be a hoax rather than an actual threat directed at school officials. No matter. The NSBA and the administration had used the pretext of threats to intimidate their political enemies.

Involving the DOJ and deploying the Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate strictly local matters like school board meetings only chills the free-speech rights of parents. Assigning DOJ observers to designated voter precincts to watch over citizen observers again treats law-abiding citizens as the problem. That parents never threatened school boards and that poll watchers never sought to intimidate voters didn’t matter. 

Look for this administration to continue to use federal law enforcement to shut down their political opponents and stifle dissent.

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