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Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, who represents most of northern Wisconsin, said President “Joe Biden’s FBI labeled concerned parents who spoke at school board meetings as domestic terrorists.”

We found no evidence of that.

Tiffany’s office cited a September 2021 letter from the nonprofit National School Boards Association to Biden that likened the violent threats directed at school officials over COVID-19 precautions and teaching on race as akin to “domestic terrorism.”

But in an October 2021 response, Attorney General Merrick Garland did not adopt that comparison. He directed the FBI to examine violent threats targeting teachers and school officials, not parents speaking at school board meetings. The memo focused on criminal conduct, including violent threats and intimidation, not “spirited debate about policy matters” which is “protected under our Constitution.”

Tiffany is preparing a possible 2024 run against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in 2024.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


CNN Fact check: Kevin McCarthy keeps repeating false claim that attorney general called parents ‘terrorists’ for wanting to attend school board meetings

PolitiFact FBI, DOJ tagged threats against school officials, not parents for attending school board meetings

PolitiFact Rick Scott wrongly warns FBI coming after loud parents at school board meetings

PolitiFact No, parents who question school curriculums haven’t been labeled domestic terrorists

Internet Archive NSBA letter to President Biden

US Department of Justice Partnership among Federal, State, Local, Tribal and Territorial law enforcement to address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff

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Tom Kertscher / Wisconsin WatchFact Checker

Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.