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Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, raise concerns over Conflict Of Interest with AG Garland’s Son-In-Law Running Organization Promoting Critical Race Theory

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland raising serious concerns and questions over a possible conflict of interest between AG Garland, whose son-in-law reportedly runs an organization that works with schools to promote critical race theory, and Garland’s recent memorandum directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to pursue parents who oppose critical race theory.

“On October 4th, you issued a memorandum directing the Federal Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”) and United States Attorneys’ Offices to address purported harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school board members. Actual violence, harassment, and threats are criminal activities and must be condemned. Yet your directive to the FBI runs a serious risk of conflating legitimate and meritorious protest by concerned parents with criminal conduct,” the senators wrote.

“Your daughter, Rebecca Garland, married Alexander (“Xan”) Newman Tanner in 2018. 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.”

“In early September, Parents Defending Education (PDE) released an article detailing parents’ concerns about data collection and student surveys implemented in Fairfax County, Virginia, under the local school district’s contract with Panorama. On September 29th, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden administration raising complaints about parents’ protests at school board meetings. Then, less than a week later, you issued the memorandum, which will benefit companies like Panorama, whose contracts may be in jeopardy as parents stand up to school boards and demand that their children not be indoctrinated with critical race theory.”

 “According to the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Conflict of Interest Policy, ‘An employee may not participate, without authorization, in a particular matter having specific parties that could affect the financial interests of members of her household.’ This policy is to prevent both actual conflicts of interests, as well as the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the senators continued.

Read the full text of the letter here and below.

Attorney General Garland:

On October 4th, you issued a memorandum directing the Federal Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”) and United States Attorneys’ Offices to address purported harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school board members. Actual violence, harassment, and threats are criminal activities and must be condemned.


Yet your directive to the FBI runs a serious risk of conflating legitimate and meritorious protest by concerned parents with criminal conduct. The memorandum implies that parents who protest school boards, including those who oppose the inclusion of critical race theory in elementary, junior high, and high school curricula, may pose a public safety threat. In doing so, the memorandum appears intended to intimidate parents across the country into silence.

 As a matter of policy, this memorandum is extraordinarily concerning, which is why I joined Senator Grassley’s letter on behalf of the 11 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in writing to you about this policy. Equally concerning, however, is 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. 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. According to a recent report from the Daily Wire, Panorama holds contracts with at least 22 school districts across the country, which have paid Panorama a combined $12 million in recent years. 

These reports outline allegations that parents and advocacy groups have recently raised about Panorama’s contracts, curriculum, data collection practices, and student surveys in early September. In early September, Parents Defending Education (PDE) released an article detailing parents’ concerns about data collection and student surveys implemented in Fairfax County, Virginia, under the local school district’s contract with Panorama.

On September 29th, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden administration raising complaints about parents’ protests at school board meetings. Then, less than a week later, you issued the memorandum, which will benefit companies like Panorama, whose contracts may be in jeopardy as patents stand up to school boards and demand that their children not be indoctrinated with critical race theory.


According to the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Conflict of Interest Policy, “An employee may not participate, without authorization, in a particular matter having specific parties that could affect the financial interests of members of her household.”

This policy is to prevent both actual conflicts of interests, as well as the appearance of a conflict of interest. In light of the allegations that your son-in-law’s company may benefit directly from your memorandum, I request that you respond to the following questions no later than October 21st, 2021:

  • Does your son-in-law, Xan Tanner, currently work for Panorama? If not, when did he leave Panorama’s employ?
  • Has Panorama provided any consulting services to DOJ since January 20th, 2021, or is Panorama under contract to provide any consulting services to DOJ in the future?
  • Has Panorama provided consulting services or curriculum to any federal agency?
  • Has there been any communication between Panorama and DOJ since January 20th, 2021?
  • Have any school district, teachers’ union, or other trade organization contacted DOJ regarding Panorama since January 20th, 2021?
  • Have any school districts that hold or have held a contract with Panorama contacted DOJ regarding Panorama since January 20th, 2021?
  • Did you seek advice from an ethics official or attorney regarding Panorama Education before issuing the October 4th, 2021 memoranda titled “Partnership Among Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Law Enforcement to Address Threats Against School Administrators, Board Members, Teachers, and Staff”?

The American people have a strong interest in ensuring that the Department of Justice is acting in their best interests, and not in the financial interest of its officials or their families.

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