On Wednesday, Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and 38 of their House and Senate colleagues demanded a briefing from the FBI on its use of the FACE Act to target Americans for their beliefs.
“The recent rise in high-profile FBI investigations into pro-life Americans raises well-founded concerns that the FBI has amassed too much power and has become a partisan cudgel wielded by the Biden Administration at the behest of progressive activists against political opponents and dissenters,” the Members wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
In just one example of the FACE Act’s weaponization, the FBI recently sent armed agents to arrest pro-life activist Mark Houck at his home on charges that had already been dismissed by state and local law enforcement.
“It is clear that congressional scrutiny of the FBI’s use of the FACE Act is needed to ensure the FBI is applying it as Congress intended and, if not, determine whether the FBI can continue to be trusted with this authority,” the Members concluded.
The 11 Senate signers include Sens. Mike Lee, Roger Marshall, Marco Rubio, Thom Tillis, Steve Daines, Tom Cotton, James Risch, Mike Braun, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, and James Lankford. The 29 House signers include Reps. Chip Roy, Chris Smith, Bob Good, Andy Biggs, Randy Weber, Louie Gohmert, Mary Miller, Jeff Duncan, Michael Cloud, Andrew Clyde, Daniel Webster, Debbie Lesko, Andy Harris, Bill Posey, Ralph Norman, Doug Lamborn, Ronny Jackson, Glenn Grothman, Dan Bishop, Jody Hice, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Brian Babin, Jim Banks, Randy Feenstra, Ken Buck, Warren Davidson, Claudia Tenney, and Jason Smith.
Rep. Roy said:
“I am outraged by the Biden Administration’s open war on pro-life activists and weaponization of federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans for their beliefs. This administration has a lot of explaining to do when protecting one’s own child means armed FBI agents at the door.
I will fight to hold this administration accountable for these politicized prosecutions and to hold Congress responsible for handing the executive branch the effectively unmitigated power to prosecute political opponents in the first place.”
Full text of the letter can be found here and below.
We write to you today deeply concerned with the continued politicization of The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The recent rise in high-profile FBI investigations into pro-life Americans raises well-founded concerns that the FBI has amassed too much power and has become a partisan cudgel wielded by the Biden Administration at the behest of progressive activists against political opponents and dissenters.
Just this last Wednesday, the Middle District of Tennessee reported the indictments of eleven pro-life activists under the FACE Act for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience at a Tennessee abortion center. On September 23, 2022, pro-life activist Mark Houck was arrested by the FBI at his home for allegedly pushing an abortion clinic volunteer, who had harassed his son. His arrest occurred despite the fact the charges had been dismissed by local authorities. On September 27, 2022, the Daily Signal reports that FBI agents questioned pro-life activists outside a Planned Parenthood in Minnesota regarding an incident, where it is alleged that a Planned Parenthood client attempted to cut up a pro-life sign and an activist pushed her away, after charges were dismissed in Minnesota state court. On September 29, 2022, the Eastern District of New York announced FACE Act charges against Father Fidelis Moscinski, a pro-life activist and Franciscan monk, for padlocking an entrance to an abortion facility and engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, for which local authorities previously sentenced him.
These are not federal law enforcement matters and represent an abuse of the FACE Act. During floor debate on the legislation, Representative Schroeder of Colorado, a co-sponsor of the FACE Act, argued that empowering the federal government through the FACE Act was necessary only “if the states cannot help, then we have a duty to move in. But we do not do it unless it appears the states cannot handle it” and that “The Federal Government does not move in until it appears that in some parts of the country there is a breakdown.”
Overzealous prosecutions under the FACE Act weaponize the power of federal law enforcement against American citizens in what should firmly be state and local matters. Further, these abuses of federal power against pro-life Americans based solely on their beliefs undermine the American people’s trust in the FBI. This is particularly true since there have been no reports of FBI investigations or DOJ prosecutions in relation to the more than 72 pregnancy resource centers and 80 Catholic churches that have been attacked or vandalized since the Dobbs leak – heinous, violent, and organized crimes across state lines that are also subject to prosecution under the FACE Act.
It is clear that congressional scrutiny of the FBI’s use of the FACE Act is needed to ensure the FBI is applying it as Congress intended and, if not, to determine whether the FBI can continue to be trusted with this authority. Therefore, we request a briefing by October 20, 2022, on the FBI’s use of the FACE Act, and specifically request answers to the following questions:
- How many FACE Act investigations has the FBI opened in 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019 respectively?
- Of the FACE Act investigations opened in 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019, how many of these cases involve:
- Abortion facilities?
- Pregnancy centers?
- Churches or houses of worship?
- How many of these cases involve subjects with charges previously dismissed or sentenced by state courts?
- What criteria does the FBI use when determining whether to open a case under the FACE Act that was previously dismissed by state courts?
- What resources are the FBI currently committing to FACE Act investigations?
- Has the Department of Justice issued any new guidance, memos, or internal correspondence regarding FACE Act investigations since the Dobbs decision was handed down by the Supreme Court? If yes, please provide such documents.