AG Schmidt is a good candidate for governor
Directing Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents across the country to monitor local school board meetings sends a threatening message from the federal government and has a chilling effect on free speech rights that must not be continued, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said recently.
Schmidt has joined a 17-state effort calling on the President Joe Biden administration to withdraw a directive that the FBI engage in monitoring local school board meetings and actions.
The attorneys general outlined their concerns in a letter sent recently to President Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“For many Americans, their first, live personal interaction with their government is with their local school board,’’ the attorneys general wrote. “Parents or other taxpayers may be aggrieved by what happened at school and/or they want more information about some issue or school practice. We, as a country, should celebrate their participation in our system of self-government, not silence them by accusing them of domestic terrorism and threaten them with the prospect of the FBI knocking on their door to investigate their activities.’’
I think most Kansans would agree with the assessment outlined above.
On Oct. 4, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memorandum decrying a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.’’
The Biden administration, however, has provided no convincing evidence of any “spikes’’ in threats against school personnel, and in any event such conduct would ordinarily be effectively handled by local law enforcement without federal involvement.
The specter of federal involvement instead seems designed to chill the lawful dissent of parents who express concerns about their children’s education at local public school board meetings, the attorneys general wrote.
The Department of Justice memo echoed a National School Board Association (NSBA) letter sent Sept. 29 to the Biden administration that lamented the rise of parents pushing back against divisive ideologies, including critical race theory. The NSBA letter raised the specter of local protests rising to the level of “domestic terrorism.’’
The attorneys general letter reiterates the primary role that parents have in directing the education of their children and asks Biden and AG Garland to “immediately withdraw the Oct. 4, 2021 Memorandum, to immediately cease any further actions designed to intimidate parents from expressing their opinions on the education of their children, and demand that you respect their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to raise their children.’’
I can’t remember the last time that I disagreed with an opinion expressed by our state Attorney General Schmidt.
Schmidt must be considered a front runner for the state Republican Party’s next nomination for governor of Kansas, as he has announced he is seeking the party’s nomination.
Schmidt is certainly at the top of the list of gubernatorial candidates that could give current Gov. Laura Kelly a run for her money in the next election. This is coming from someone who supported Gov. Kelly for election her first time around.
Schmidt is the candidate for voters who believe we need to stress law and order. The COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal on everyone, including the current governor, though not everything that’s gone bad has been her doing.