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Why is a national PAC invested in these local Georgia school board elections?

A nationally-funded political action committee is getting involved in school board elections in Cherokee, Paulding, and Coweta counties.

COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — Parents are raising questions after noticing a nationally-funded political action committee is getting involved in school board elections in Cherokee, Paulding, and Coweta counties.

Fliers appearing in families' mailboxes discuss critical race theory, obscene books in schools and transgender students, while urging residents to vote in school board elections.

"I wasn't expecting there to be a state and federal super PAC interfering in a local school board election for a volunteer position -- it's an unpaid position," Joshua Weida said.

Joshua Weida has two daughters in the Coweta County School District and when he saw the flyers he wanted to know who was sending them and why.

He started researching the 1776 political action committee after he found one of their flyers in his mailbox. The PAC brands itself as a group that promotes "patriotism and pride in American history" and is dedicated to electing school board members nationwide.

It endorsed four candidates for the Coweta County School Board. Weida also found a job posting online, supporting those endorsements.

"One of the solicitations that was put out in Coweta County, they were offering canvassers $2,600 a month, housing, fuel, and expenses to canvass a school board election," he said. 

11Alive contacted the Coweta school board candidates the PAC endorsed and have not heard back. 

However, in a speech recorded last month and posted on YouTube, an incumbent spoke about the endorsement.

"We are endorsed by the 1776 Committee to take back schools. That is who we are," Linda Menk said in the clip.

Coweta School Board Member Linda Menk repeated some of the PAC's talking points about critical race theory in schools.11Alive has extensively researched the issue and has not found any Georgia K-12 public school teaching CRT.

Menk also reiterated false claims about the ability of transgender students to get treatment in school.

"They're going to be able to administer puberty blockers without parental consent or knowledge," Menk said in the clip. 

Political Analyst Dr. Matthew Schmidt, from New Haven University, said he's not surprised to see national politics take a local stage in Georgia.

"There are tricks that they use to scare people into voting one way or just scare them out of voting altogether," Schmidt said. "That's part of it, the disinformation, too, is to make it so ugly that people stay home, and that's another way to shift an election."

Weida doesn't think the flyers will sway too many parents, as it could already resonate with parts of the community.

"The flyers are not there to convince people of what they already believe. I think the flyers are there to activate people who believe these things. And simply let them know there's an outlet, they can have an election. They're not persuasive, they're motivational," he said. 

Early voting has already started in Coweta County. Election Day for the four school board seats is May 24.

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