Even before the Southern Poverty Law Center, the discredited far-left smear factory, put the parental rights group Moms for Liberty on its “hate map” alongside chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, left-leaning outlets had repeated claims that the parental rights group’s leaders had harassed school board members or other moms who disagreed with them.
The Daily Signal has examined many of these claims and found them baseless. In many cases, the Moms for Liberty leaders themselves appear to have suffered harassment in situations where outlets such as Media Matters and activist groups such as GLAAD portray them as the villains.
Moms for Liberty co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich repeatedly have condemned threats and harassment. They have insisted there is no evidence that Moms for Liberty leaders encouraged or engaged in school board threats.
“These are not our people, we denounce it,” Descovich told ABC affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay, Florida, back in 2021.
The list below mostly focuses on the incidents highlighted by Media Matters in April. It doesn’t address a Moms for Liberty chapter that took heat for quoting Adolf Hitler, because that chapter clearly quoted Hitler sardonically to illustrate a point, not as an endorsement.
1. Accusations Against Tiffany Justice
Citing local Florida news reports, Media Matters claimed of Justice, the Moms for Liberty co-founder: “Justice once visited her son’s elementary school to oppose the district’s COVID-19 mask mandate, and her conduct with teachers and administrators was reportedly ‘so disruptive and disrespectful’ that the superintendent ‘warned she could be barred from campus.’”
Justice, who served on the Indian River County School Board for four years, set the record straight in an interview with The Daily Signal. She said Deputy Superintendent Scott Bass and Principal Rachel Finnegan, who oversaw her son’s school in the Indian River district, Beachland Elementary in Vero Beach, Florida, pulled her into a storage closet to discuss her son’s issues and yelled at her there.
“My son had told my husband and I that if he had to continue wearing a mask at school, he didn’t want to live his life anymore,” she said, noting that her son has special needs.
Although she had “volunteered over the course of four years” at Beachland Elementary, when she notified the school that she wanted to sit in on her son’s class, the school enforced a policy that parents had to give notice to teachers 24 hours ahead of time before visiting.
“It had never been enforced, apparently, but they enforced it with me,” Justice said.
Since she asked permission to sit in on her son’s class at 9:15 a.m. on a Monday and school started at 9, school administrators said she couldn’t attend his class until Wednesday, so she kept him home for two days. That Wednesday, the school had a police officer escort her to his classroom. “My third grader asked, ‘Why do you have a police officer? So-and-so’s grandma comes in, and she doesn’t have a police officer.’”
“I went in to see the classroom environment and see where he could sit to take his mask off while he was learning,” Justice recalled. “He was ostracized by the teacher and treated horribly. They had it out for him—and me.”
When the class took part in an activity called “circle time,” Justice said, the teacher prevented her son from participating. “The teacher told him to get up, and he had to leave the circle. He cried and I told him to sit with me, at which point I was called a disturbance.”
Justice said she had a meeting scheduled for lunch with Bass, the deputy superintendent, but he came early. He insisted that she had to meet with him immediately.
“He proceeded to pull me into a storage closet with the principal,” Justice recalled of Bass. “He berated me for 10 minutes and told me, ‘I thought you were on our team.’”
“I said I wanted to leave the storage closet,” she said. “The police officer there witnessed the whole thing. He apologized to me.”
“I pulled my son out of school that day and we finished at home,” she added.
Justice said she asked the school district to investigate the deputy superintendent and the teachers, but the school district “turned the investigation around on me.”
Indian River County School District didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment. The district didn’t provide a copy of the report on the incident, which notes that Bass took both Finnegan and Justice into a storage closet.
A local news outlet, extremely hostile to Justice, reported that “Bass … refused to be bullied and, apparently, didn’t mince words with Justice.”
2. Jennifer Jenkins’ Claims
Jennifer Jenkins, a school board member in Brevard County, Florida, claimed she was harassed by Moms for Liberty after replacing Tina Descovich on that board in 2021.
“There is zero evidence that Moms for Liberty is involved,” Justice told The Daily Signal.
“Jenkins filed police reports. None of them were involved in any of it,” the Moms for Liberty co-founder added.
In January 2022, a Brevard County judge dismissed Jenkins’ request for a restraining order against Florida state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican. Jenkins said that Fine had “cyberstalked her” on social media, but the state legislator argued that his public Facebook posts, in which Fine criticized Jenkins, amounted to speech protected by the First Amendment.
“Jennifer Jenkins doesn’t seem to understand that elected officials are allowed to be criticized,” Fine told Florida Today at the time. “She’s proven to have no understanding of the law, whether it’s breaking it on mask mandates …. or wasting the court’s time with this.”
Jenkins said then that she “personally disagreed” with the judge’s decision, although she also “respected” it.
“Personally, I feel this ruling today just gives authority to someone with power [and] political position to incite harassment and threats against another individual, and excuses that behavior,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins didn’t respond by publication time to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on Justice’s contention that Jenkins’ police reports didn’t mention anyone from Moms for Liberty.
3. Nicole Marie Prussman
The Pocono Record reported in March that Nicole Marie Prussman, chairwoman of the Monroe County, Pennsylvania, chapter of Moms for Liberty, was arrested on a harassment charge. Left-leaning outlets trumpeted the news and published salacious claims that Prussman had used the Facebook account of a dead woman, Libby Leonard, to harass a mother who disagreed with her.
These news outlets have not reported that a judge dismissed the harassment charge against Prussman on Oct. 4. Prussman’s attorney, Wally Zimolong, told The Daily Signal that the judge dismissed the case because the alleged harassment could not be substantiated. He also said that the prosecutor’s evidence against Prussman made no mention of the late Libby Leonard.
“All charges have been dismissed,” Zimolong told The Daily Signal in a Tuesday interview. The lawyer shared the Pike County, Pennsylvania, court document dismissing the case, which notes that “the Commonwealth has no evidence to produce.”
Although the court misspelled Prussman’s name in the dismissal, the docket number—28-2023-SA—matches the one assigned to her case.
Justice said Prussman had not been arrested, explaining that the complaint form merely lists an “arresting officer” and an “arrestee.”
“Contrary to some of the reporting, Nicole Prussman was never arrested,” Zimolong, the woman’s lawyer, told The Daily Signal. “She was issued a ticket.”
“Nicole was charged with a summary offense of harassment, and she appeared before a magisterial district justice,” Zimolong noted. These justices, he said, represent “the lowest rung of the criminal court system in Pennsylvania. Many MDJs are not even lawyers.”
These justices handle small claims such as traffic and parking tickets, Prussman’s lawyer said. The justice who heard Prussman’s case fined her, which explains the May 31 Pocono Record story reporting that Prussman had been convicted.
“All summary convictions are appealable to the state court system,” Zimolong told The Daily Signal. “We appealed before a regular state trial court judge, and all charges were dismissed against Nicole.”
“The commonwealth could not authenticate any of the messages that she allegedly sent,” he said.
The alleged victim, whose real name is Alexandria Allison, had gone by an alias in the messages that she presented as evidence of harassment by Prussman.
Allison had claimed that Prussman sent her harassing messages on Facebook Messenger, and she produced what she claimed to be screenshots of messages between Prussman and herself under the alias “Allison Nicole.”
“The messages at issue were exchanged vis-à-vis Facebook’s instant messenger,” Zimolong said. “This is what we received as printouts” when the government turned over the evidence against Prussman in the discovery process, he said.
Yet when Prussman’s team asked government officials to corroborate the messages, they could not. “The alleged victim deleted them,” Prussman’s lawyer said. “She destroyed the evidence.”
“This ‘Allison Nicole’ printed out the messages and then deleted them, and none of them could go to the Facebook Messenger platform and corroborate them,” Zimolong explained.
The lawyer described the claims about Libby Leonard as bizarre.
“The alleged harassing messages that she sent weren’t sent from a dead person’s account, they were allegedly sent between two people on Facebook Messenger,” Zimolong said. “There were no Libby Leonard messages.”
Had the actual Allison gone on the witness stand, “we would have cross-examined her on why she was using a name different from her name,” the lawyer added. “It was our understanding that this Alexandria Allison had multiple aliases and used them to provoke Moms for Liberty people.”
4. Larry Leaven
Larry Leaven, superintendent of the Florida Union Free School District in Florida, New York, resigned after alleged harassment. The Florida Times Union reported that Moms for Liberty had accused Leaven of “anti-white and anti-Christian bias” and engaged in homophobia, attacking Leaven because he is in a legal same-sex marriage. Moms for Liberty’s endorsed candidates won three out of five school board seats in May 2022, and Leaven resigned shortly afterward.
“When you’re elected, people complaining about you and criticizing you is not harassment,” Justice told The Daily Signal about the Leaven situation. “They have a right to do that, whether you like it or not.”
“The guy saw the writing on the wall,” the Moms for Liberty co-founder added. “If you don’t like the superintendent in your district, get rid of him. The unions have been doing this for years.”
As for the accusation of homophobia, Justice said: “We have a lot of gay members, a lot of lesbian members.”
5. New Hampshire ‘Bounty’
New Hampshire’s Republican governor, John Sununu, condemned the state’s Moms for Liberty chapter in November 2021 after it promised a “bounty” for anyone successfully catching a public school teacher violating a law against teaching divisive concepts such as critical race theory.
The law, called the Right to Freedom From Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education, prohibits public school teachers from teaching that one group of people is superior or inferior to another group, or that certain groups are inherently oppressive.
New Hampshire’s Department of Education set up a website to collect complaints against teachers, and the Moms for Liberty chapter announced a reward for those who successfully report teachers.
“We’ve got $500 for the person that first successfully catches a public school teacher breaking this law,” the chapter tweeted. “Students, parents, teachers, school staff … We want to know! We will pledge anonymity if you want.”
“The governor condemns the tweet referencing ‘bounties’ and any sort of financial incentive is wholly inappropriate and has no place,” Sununu spokesperson Ben Vihstadt, told The Associated Press.
Justice defended the idea, however.
“I kind of think of it like ‘Crime Stoppers for Education,’” the Moms for Liberty co-founder told The Daily Signal.
“They weren’t supposed to be teaching CRT in school,” she noted, referring to critical race theory. “The problem with these laws, there’s no accountability measure. There’s no teeth in it, and that’s frustrating.”
“I applaud Rachel for her creativity,” Justice said of the founder of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. (Rachel appears to have withheld her last name to remain anonymious.)
6. Ed Kelley
Ed Kelley, a school board member in Charleston County, South Carolina, faced pressure to resign after critics claimed he said at a Moms for Liberty chapter meeting in March that if his child’s teacher publicly identified as transgender, he would show up at the teacher’s doorstep with a gun.
Kelley said that one or more critics had twisted his words, and no one has come forward with video of the remarks to disprove the school board member.
Kelley told WCSC-TV that a father reached out to him after the father’s child came home from school confused because a female teacher announced that she would identify as male, using male pronouns.
“It is not within a teacher’s unilateral discretion to make statements about personal sexual choices to children without consulting school officials including the superintendent and principal (who in turn have a moral imperative to engage with parents),” Kelley said in a written statement.
“In my opinion, this teacher demonstrated poor judgment with no consideration of the emotional impact or confusion forced upon these young, impressionable children,” Kelley added. “This teacher should have talked with school and district administrators, health care professionals and other properly trained experts before dropping something so sensitive and confusing on such young children.”
As for the Moms for Liberty event, he said, his remarks had been twisted beyond all recognition.
“What I actually said was, ‘Given how understandably agitated he was, I applaud this father for making the right choice to write an email instead of pick up a gun,’” Kelley said. “He expressed his concerns about this subject matter being discussed in a fourth-grade class and how inappropriate such a conversation is in the classroom.”
“I fully agree with this father, whose child was robbed of their innocence by someone they should have been able to trust,” Kelley added. “All students and educators must have a safe and stable learning environment.”
Kelley said he didn’t promise to use a gun or encourage a parent to do so, he praised a father for choosing speech over violence.
7. Melissa ‘Missy’ Bosch
Critics have accused Melissa “Missy” Bosch, head of communications for the Lenoke County, Arkansas, chapter of Moms for Liberty, of threatening librarians with gun violence in June 2022.
In contrast to Kelley’s case, critics produced an audio recording of Bosch’s alleged threat.
“I’m telling you, if I was [having] any mental health issues, they would all be plowed down with a freaking gun by now,” Bosch said.
Bosch’s remark in itself doesn’t constitute a direct threat, as Tiffany Justice noted.
“She’s saying she doesn’t have mental health issues but if she did … ,” Justice told The Daily Signal. “They’re so upset.”
Bosch wasn’t endorsing or threatening violence, she was confessing that the librarians had made her so angry that, if she were mentally unstable, she might have engaged in violence. That admission may be inadvisable, but it’s miles away from a threat.
“We are effective advocates,” Justice said of Moms for Liberty. “We are not taking violent steps, we’re going through the process. We’re working to get people elected, we’re changing policy and procedure.”
“We’re doing that so there isn’t violence,” she explained, then addressed the critics. “They’re looking for anything and everything to take it and twist your words.”
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