Trading on the family name: Don’t forget about Frank Biden

By Pete McGinnis (Washington Examiner, Op-ed)

What’s in a name? That depends on who you ask – some names are more valuable than others.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is asking President Biden whether his is worth $200,000 (or was in 2018, before inflation spiked). That was the amount of a check the president’s brother James wrote to Joe ostensibly as a “loan repayment.” Mr. Comer wants to know the details because there’s no record of such a loan elsewhere in the president’s documents.

It seems like a worthy question, given the allegations of Hunter Biden repeatedly using the family name to land lucrative sinecures at Ukrainian and Chinese energy companies – “10% for the Big Guy” and all that. There aren’t too many families with $200,000 checks circulating, let alone life-long public servants in a position to make that kind of loan.

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GOP probes feds’ meeting with greens on Minn. mining project

By Nidhi Prakash (E&E News)

House Republicans are investigating a planned meeting between Interior Department officials and environmental groups in 2021 to discuss mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration blocked new mining on 225,000 acres in the Superior National Forest for 20 years in part to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The administration had already canceled leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper and nickel mining project.

In a Monday letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning, Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee requested information on the administration’s decision and discussions between high-level staff — including then-Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau — and The Wilderness Society.

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Shortlist For EPA’s Multi-Billion Dollar ‘Green’ Fund Features Groups With Deep Connections To Biden Admin, Dems

By Nick Pope (Daily Caller)

The shortlist of contenders seeking billions of dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) features several organizations with considerable connections to the Biden administration, as well as the Democratic Party and its allies.

The Coalition for Green Capital, Power Forward Communities and Climate United are three of the five consortiums that are reportedly the most serious contenders to receive billions in National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF) grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), a $27 billion EPA program established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), according to E&E News. The groups are variously composed of eco-activist organizations and smaller “green banks” with political connections, and they all feature numerous individuals on their boards who work for influential organizations aligned with the Democratic Party or previously worked for Democratic administrations.

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Top Biden donor’s Treasury appointment raises watchdog concerns: ‘Special interest activists’

By Gabe Kaminsky (Washington Examiner)

Watchdogs are sounding the alarm over President Joe Biden’s move to tap a deep-pocketed Wall Street veteran boosting his 2024 reelection campaign to head up a powerful Treasury Department commission.

Orin Kramer, founder of the hedge fund Boston Provident LP, was announced in a Treasury press release Thursday as chairman of its Commission on Social Impact Partnerships, an advisory board tasked with making recommendations to the agency on millions of dollars in local and state government grants. The appointment of Kramer, who has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Biden’s 2024 campaigns and joint fundraising committees, comes on the heels of Kramer co-hosting a “Broadway for Biden” fundraiser in September featuring performances from Hamilton maker Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as singers Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, a flyer shows.

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Anti-Israel protests fueled by terror-tied dark money groups: ‘National security issue’

By Gabe Kaminsky (Washington Examiner)

Activists organizing pro-Palestinian protests across the United States in the wake of the Hamas attacks against Israel share various deep affiliations with designated terrorist factions, all while quietly receiving checks from anonymous sources, according to records.

The streets of Washington, D.C., were flooded Saturday with tens of thousands of activists demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and for the U.S. to choke off aid to Israel, where more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers have been killed by Islamic terrorists since Oct. 7, the deadliest attack against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Groups behind the increasing number of anti-Israel protests and the recent one in the nation’s capital that spurred vandalism maintain particularly opaque dark money funding structures and have also faced scrutiny over the years for their ties to terror, a Washington Examiner investigation found.

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Biden Keeps Getting His Nominees Rejected, But Stuffs Them Into His Admin Anyways

By Nick Pope (Daily Caller)

The Biden administration has found ways to appoint several officials to influential posts within the government after the Senate denied their confirmations earlier in President Joe Biden’s first term.

The Senate failed to confirm Laura Daniel-Davis, Ann Carlson, Jeff Marootian and Neera Tanden, with Republicans generally citing their partisanship or radicalism, but the White House has found influential positions for them to assume within the government anyways. The administration has found ways to shoehorn these individuals into their current posts across the government by appointing Daniel-Davis and Carlson on an acting basis, while sticking Marootian and Tanden in positions that do not require a formal Senate confirmation process.

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Big Oil Lobbied to Avoid Liability for Clean-up Costs; Given Regular Audience Among Senior Biden Officials

Agency Records Show New Rule May Stem from Big Oil Ask.

(Washington, DC) – Today, government watchdog Functional Government Initiative (FGI) released newly obtained records showing a series of private meetings early in the Biden administration between Interior officials and representatives from the major oil companies. While not unusual in itself, the private meetings represent a stark contrast from public perceptions pushed by the administration of its principled opposition to the oil and gas industry.

President Biden made clear in his 2020 campaign that he intended to restrict all new oil and gas development on public lands. However, access to his senior decision-makers at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and its sub-agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), appears to have been business-as-usual for the world’s largest oil producers. The newly obtained records also reveal that a complex but consequential set of government bonding requirements was of primary interest to the major oil companies. They sought regulatory changes that could shield their bottom line from the potential decommissioning liability of independent oil producers and small businesses operating in the Gulf of Mexico, while foisting additional costs to the small oil and gas operators. They also appeared to recognize the danger of their coordination being exposed, with one of their representatives asking BOEM officials at one point whether their comments would be made available to public scrutiny.

Big Oil’s wish appears to have been granted by the Biden administration. On June 29, 2023, BOEM published a proposal to amend bonding requirements in a way that many believe creates a new scheme to relieve the world’s biggest oil producers from billions in potential liability for clean-up costs under the leases. The proposal may also accomplish the President’s goals of restricting, as some small business advocates project that it may have the effect of putting many of these same smaller independent oil and gas producers who make up 76 percent of oil and gas operators in the Gulf out of business. The proposed rule would force non-publicly traded operators to incur more than $6 billion in insurance costs that even the surety industry itself claims would not be financially viable.

The public comment period on the new rules closed in September, and the Interior Department is currently reviewing comments from various stakeholders. The strange bed fellows in favor of the rules include major oil companies and their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute (API), along with a variety of large environmental NGOs who have generally been supportive of Interior’s efforts to reduce or eliminate all oil and gas production.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“These records paint a picture of the Biden Administration saying one thing publicly while appearing to do another behind closed doors. Ironically, in this instance it seems that coziness between senior political appointees at Interior and representatives of Big Oil may be the driver of BOEM’s latest rule on offshore bonding. Given the devastating impact projected by the BOEM bonding proposal on small oil and gas operators in the Gulf, the latest salvo may also be hitting two birds with one stone. Beyond just fulfilling Big Oil’s goal of crushing smaller competitors with new surety costs, the environmentalist lobby opposed to all drilling also appears to come out a winner since the rule could mean total dysfunction in the long-term viability of the Gulf’s energy industry.”


Biden Admin Talks Tough On Big Oil, But Gave Them Regular Access To Discuss Key Regulatory Change

By Nick Pope (Daily Caller)

The Biden administration gave oil industry lobbyists and representatives a regular audience in 2021 to discuss a key regulatory change that is shaping up to work in the interest of major oil companies, while hammering the industry’s major players as profiteers harming the environment, according to emails obtained by the Functional Government Initiative (FGI).

The communications between officials from the Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), American Petroleum Institute (API) and major oil companies occurred primarily in 2021, and pertained to federal rules for decommissioning offshore drilling areas. BOEM later published a new proposal to change those rules on June 29 of this year, which would create a revised system for companies to set aside funds for lease area clean-up that some observers say shields the world’s biggest oil producers from billions in potential liability for decommissioning costs.

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Interior Officials Secretly Met with Environmental Plaintiffs in Critical Minerals Project They Later Cancelled

Lobbyists from The Wilderness Society brainstormed “legal and policy pathways” with DOI lawyers on Twin Metals.

(Washington, DC) – Government watchdog Functional Government Initiative (FGI) has released recently obtained records showing coordination between the lead plaintiff challenging the nation’s largest critical minerals project and senior Department of the Interior (DOI) policymakers and lawyers. Perhaps most notable is the high-level policy meeting involving lobbyists from The Wilderness Society (TWS), the plaintiff in the controversial Twin Metals case, and Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and Deputy Chief of Staff Kate Kelly. The previously undisclosed meeting is noticeably absent from Beaudreau’s public calendars.

Since January 2021, DOI has taken several steps to unwind the prior administration’s policy and litigation position regarding a major critical minerals deposit in Minnesota. On January 26, 2022, DOI announced it was canceling two hard rock mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a mining company operating in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Secretary Haaland’s action imposes a 20-year moratorium on mining on the approximately 225,000 acres of forest upstream from the wilderness.

Records recently obtained by FGI show meetings taking place in mid-2021 involving members of DOI leadership (Beaudreau and Kelly) at the same time TWS sought to coordinate with one of Interior’s top lawyers, Deputy Solicitor Natalie Landreth. The emails also show the officials were aware of the potential landmines associated with holding behind-the-scenes meetings on a controversial matter in active litigation without all sides present. The apparent workaround was a hodgepodge of mixed participation in certain meetings and labeling some meetings “policy” meetings. Remarkably, in the meeting between DOI lawyers and TWS, the attendees planned to “discuss some of the legal & policy pathways for protecting the Boundary waters watershed.” This would almost certainly walk right up to the line or over it given the issue being intimately wrapped up in a highly charged and complex active litigation. TWS later dropped its lawsuit after the DOI’s announcement of the lease cancellations.

DOI leadership likely understood that hosting the meetings looked ethically suspect as Deputy Secretary Beaudreau’s available public calendars curiously do not have the July 2021 meeting with TWS. Whether any other secret meetings were planned or held between DOI officials and plaintiffs in the Twin Metals case remains an open question that FGI continues to investigate.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“The American public should be concerned when senior government officials and lobbyists of plaintiffs are not reporting meetings that appear to influence active litigation and major policy decisions. More concerning may be a meeting with DOI lawyers to brainstorm ‘legal and policy pathways’ without opposing counsel and DOJ lawyers present. They appear to be throwing caution to the wind to advance their preferred policy position and those of their special interest friend, which just happens to be the former employer of several of Haaland’s senior political appointees.”


Interior emails tied to Boundary Waters spark questions

By Hannah Northey (E&E)

The Interior Department’s plans for top staffers to meet environmentalists in 2021 and discuss protections for Minnesota’s pristine Boundary Waters from a controversial mining project — an issue the green group had already sued over — is attracting fresh scrutiny from conservative watchdogs.

Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and other agency officials planned to meet with representatives of the Wilderness Society to talk about potential sulfur-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters, according to emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and shared with E&E News.

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