CPAC 2023: GOP lawmakers want to 'fire bureaucrats' in response to DOJ 'weaponization'
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, Republican members of the U.S. Congress called for the downsizing of the federal government in response to what they say has been the weaponization of federal law enforcement agencies against conservatives and people of faith.
CPAC, one of the most prominent annual gatherings of conservative activists and politicians, made its return this week to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference wasted little time highlighting the gripes conservatives have had with what they argue has been the politicization of the Department of Justice, FBI and other law enforcement agencies under the Biden administration, which the House Judiciary Committee is investigating under the new Republican majority. The morning panel titled "No Dominus Vobiscum FBI" focused on the alleged weaponization of the federal government.
Moderated by Fox News contributor and Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich, the panel featured Reps. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., and Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., members of the newly established U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government.
"You have the DOJ, the Department of Justice, telling parents that are concerned about what their kids are being taught that they are terrorists," Cammack, who previously served as the chief of staff to her predecessor Ted Yoho until his 2020 retirement, explained.
Cammack referred to a 2021 Department of Justice memo directing the FBI to work with state and local law enforcement to "facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff."
The memo followed a letter from the National School Boards Association urging the federal government to use anti-terrorism laws, including "the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statue, [and] the Conspiracy Against Rights statute" to take action against those who threaten school officials.
Critics suggested that the memo was an effort to silence concerned parents who descended on school boards to express outrage over sexually explicit material in school curriculum and school libraries, the teaching of racially divisive theories and coronavirus restrictions.
Pavlich warned of a "double standard between the prosecutions of the pro-life Americans" versus the comparative lack of action taken to address "dozens of crisis pregnancy centers which have been [vandalized and] firebombed." She cited the case of pro-life activist Mark Houck, who was arrested last September by "FBI agents in front of [his] children" over purported violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. A jury found him not guilty in January.
Several pro-life pregnancy centers, churches and pro-life advocacy organizations have been vandalized in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision that determined that the U.S. Constitution doesn't contain a right to abortion. Aside from the arrest of vandals who defaced pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida, many of the perpetrators of such violence remain at large.
Hageman, an attorney serving her first term after defeating her predecessor and prominent Donald Trump critic Liz Cheney in 2022, attributed the alleged politicization of the federal government to the fact that the country has "stockpiled more and more power in Washington, D.C."
"[W]e've laundered more and more money to Washington, D.C., and it has now become probably [that] the biggest business really in the United States is the federal government," she said.
She lamented that "conservatives and Republicans and parents are the targets of these folks," adding, "we need to ferret it out, we need to expose it, we need to be passing laws to stop it."
"What I'm focused on is that the FBI and the Department of Justice have been violating our First Amendment rights through surrogacy," Hageman added. "So, we found out through the Twitter Files that they have been contacting Twitter and social media companies and demanding that they pull down folks."
Hageman noted that under the First Amendment, "neither of these agencies would be able to do that directly, so they're doing it through a third party." She insisted that "It's just as illegal."
The Twitter Files were submitted to independent journalists by new Twitter CEO Elon Musk beginning at the end of last year. The documents show government officials sending requests to Twitter to consider censoring certain accounts.
When asked how lawmakers could use their power to protect against the continued weaponization of the federal government, Hageman said they should "start with the 10th Amendment."
"Start with taking power out of Washington, D.C.," she said.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants all powers not directly delegated to the federal government to the states.
"Every single one of these agencies is too large," she maintained.
Cammack warned about the "regulatory regime," which she described as the fourth branch of government, expressing concern that it was too difficult to fire career employees of the federal government.
"We have to be able to fire these bureaucrats," she said. "They are so insulated."
The House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government was established in a Feb. 1 resolution to investigate "matters related to the collection, analysis, dissemination, and use of information on U.S. citizens by executive branch agencies, including whether such efforts are illegal, unconstitutional, or otherwise unethical." The Subcommittee was established after Republicans retook control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2022 elections.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com