Conservative government watchdog America First Legal is looking into whether there are “ethical conflicts” stemming from Attorney General Merrick Garland’s family financial interests, following reports that his son-in-law is the co-founder of an education company that some speculate could benefit from his recent crackdown on protesting parents.
On Wednesday, AFL filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice “seeking records bearing on potential conflict of interest concerns created by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s October 4, 2021 memorandum mobilizing the Department’s National Security Division and the FBI against parents speaking out against Critical Race Theory and extreme gender ideology indoctrination in public schools.”
The request comes after it was revealed Panorama Education, co-founded by Xan Tanner, supports critical race theory curricula while servicing 23,000 schools in the nation, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The watchdog organization cited public corporate data that showed as much as $100 million had been invested in Panorama Education, despite the company claiming it depends on payments from school boards.
“Panorama and its billionaire investors, it seems, aim to profit by “transforming” America’s children through woke indoctrination, while sticking their parents with the bill,” AFL said in a statement.
“Accordingly, Mr. Tanner’s financial interest in a business that benefits from CRT and gender ideology indoctrination might render the Attorney General’s participation in measures to promote or protect such activities, including the October 4, 2021 memorandum, ethically problematic.”
On Oct. 4, Garland issued a memo in which he tasked the FBI with investigating an alleged recent spike in violence against school staff amid backlash from parents over CRT being injected into school curricula, however, the memo did not specify what those acts or who the perpetrators were.
Amid criticism from parents and politicians over the intentions behind the order, some are questioning whether Garland has a conflict of interest due to his son-in-law’s company, in part because Panorama Education is known to have supported CRT curricula.
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.”
In an Oct. 8 letter, several Republican lawmakers wrote to Garland expressing concern over “reporting about an alleged connection between your family members and controversial curricula that will directly benefit from this memorandum and the chilling of speech.”
“Your daughter, Rebecca Garland, married Alexander (“Xan”) Newman Tanner in 2018.3 Mr. Tanner is a co-founder of Panorama Education (“Panorama”), a “social learning” provider that provides consultancy services that reportedly aids schools in teaching critical race theory under the guise of “equity and inclusion” to America’s children,” US Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote.
Stephen Miller, founder of America First Legal and adviser to former President Donald Trump, has said it is “exceptionally urgent” for the DOJ to release all records related to Garland’s family’s financial interest in CRT.
“AG Garland ordered the DOJ to use its vast national security powers to target parents who object to Critical Race Theory being forced onto innocent children. It is therefore exceptionally urgent that the Department disclose all records pertaining to the Garland family’s financial interest in Critical Race Theory and any and all ethical conflicts that arise from that financial interest,” Miller told Fox News.
The DOJ has defended the order, saying it is aiming to root out “criminal threats of violence, not about any particular ideology,” calling claims about efforts to silence those with specific views on coronavirus policies, CRT, or other school curricula “misinformation.”