FGI Director

Biden’s 2,000 boxes and 400 gigabytes of digital records from 36 years in the Senate should be SEARCHED for classified documents, three watchdog groups demand

By Emily Goodin (The Daily Mail)

January 25, 2023

Several watchdog groups are calling for Joe Biden’s records from his Senate years to be searched for classified documents after another tranche of material was found at his Wilmington, Delaware, home.

There are also calls to search his Rehoboth, Delaware, beach home. Biden’s personal attorneys searched the home but said no classified material is there.

The University of Delaware houses 1,875 boxes and over 400 gigabytes of digital records from Biden’s 36-year Senate career. He deposited his records there at the end of his service.

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Biden Senate records should be searched in classified documents case, watchdogs say

By Gabe Kaminsky (Washington Examiner)

January 24, 2023

EXCLUSIVE — The special counsel appointed to investigate President Joe Biden’s possible mishandling of classified documents should authorize a search of his hidden Senate records stored at the University of Delaware, according to watchdogs.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made ex-Trump Justice Department appointee Robert Hur special counsel on Jan. 12 to handle the investigation, which widened in scope on Friday upon DOJ officials finding six more classified records at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home. Now, three watchdog groups are calling for a search of the University of Delaware, which houses almost 2,000 boxes and over 400 gigabytes of digital records from Biden’s 36-year Senate career.

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Records: Biden Coordinated Emergency Oil Release With Already Forecasted Price Dip, Then Took Credit

By Tristan Justice (The Federalist)

January 23, 2023

President Joe Biden took credit for knocking a few cents off of record-high oil prices after withdrawing millions of barrels from the nation’s emergency strategic petroleum reserves (SPR), but records show his Department of Energy actually timed the first drawdown of the emergency oil supply to coincide with an already forecasted decline in oil prices.

According to internal documents obtained by the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), administration officials acknowledged agency assessments that predicted a drop in oil prices ahead of the first SPR release in November 2021.

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Biden’s supply-chain crisis task force leader never attended a meeting

(Hot Air)

January 20, 2023

In June 2021, as supply chains were being crippled by the effects of pandemic-era restrictions and Biden’s rampant spending, Vilsack pledged to participate in meetings with the newly formed Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, an initiative Biden said would solve the budding crisis with a whole-of-government approach.

But those promised meetings never occurred. There are no records showing that Vilsack or his designees participated in any meetings with the task force after its launch, according to the Department of Agriculture’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Functional Government Institute.

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Biden supply chain task force leader didn’t attend any meetings during crisis: Report

By Rachel Schilke (Washington Examiner)

January 20, 2023

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was asked to co-lead a team tasked with addressing the supply chain crisis but never attended a meeting.

After the Functional Government Institute submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Agriculture, records showed that meetings between the secretary and those designated to serve on the team have not participated in any meetings for the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, the institute said, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

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Top Biden Officials Responsible For Leading Supply Chain Task Force Never Even Showed Up To Meetings: Report

By Ben Zeisloft (Daily Wire)

January 20, 2023

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack never attended meetings of the task force he co-chaired to help resolve the nation’s supply chain woes, according to a public records request from the Functional Government Institute.

A public records request from the Functional Government Institute revealed that the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, created by the White House two years ago, suffered from nonexistent leadership. The Agriculture Department only produced 19 pages of records related to the entity after five months and a federal lawsuit from the Functional Government Institute; 14 of the pages were copied from public statements about the initiative, and none of the records provided evidence that Vilsack or his deputies attended any meetings.

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Led the Biden Administration’s Supply Chain Task Force. He Never Attended A Meeting.

By Andrew Kerr (Washington Free Beacon)

January 20, 2023

President Joe Biden tapped Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to co-chair a team tasked with fixing a supply chain crisis that left grocery shelves empty. The secretary never even showed up to a meeting, records show.

In June 2021, as supply chains were being crippled by the effects of pandemic-era restrictions and Biden’s rampant spending, Vilsack pledged to participate in meetings with the newly formed Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, an initiative Biden said would solve the budding crisis with a whole-of-government approach.

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Legislation Reintroduced to Slash Telework Flexibilities for Federal Employees

By Ian Smith (FedSmith)

January 13, 2023

Among the first of the bills introduced in the new House of Representatives in the 118th Congress is one that involves federal employees. Specifically, the legislation would cut back on the amount of telework currently being afforded to federal workers.

The Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems (SHOW UP) Act (H.R. 139) was reintroduced in the House by Congressman James Comer (R-KY). Comer also is the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

The bill would require that the federal government’s telework policy be returned to the pre-COVID telework policy that was last in place on December 31, 2019. It also forbids expanding the telework policy, practices or levels until a plan is submitted to Congress about the effects of telework on federal agencies and productivity.

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Memo to Granholm in Late 2021 Indicates SPR Releases Timed to Coincide with Predicted Price Decreases

Administration’s decisions to tap SPR appear designed to take political advantage of projected declines in price

January 25, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) released records obtained from ongoing litigation against the Department of Energy (DOE) to get to the bottom of the motivation behind the decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in late 2021 through late 2022. A memo FGI received in the case shows the Department had predicted declines in gas prices even before SPR resources were released to the market. The sales from the SPR stopped after the midterm elections and at one point included sales of more than a million barrels to a Chinese-government-tied energy company.

During Biden’s campaign in 2020, he explicitly promised to limit additional domestic oil and gas development. Upon coming into office, the Biden Administration lived up to that promise with several ongoing steps to restrict domestic energy production. The subsequent spike in average gas prices from January 2021 ($2.38) to mid-November 2021 ($3.41) – and ultimately climbing to more than $5 a gallon in June 2022 – lead many experts and the American public to directly link the higher prices to the President’s energy policy. Today’s average price per gallon is $3.27, 37 percent higher than the day before President Biden took office.

FGI filed litigation against the Department of Energy after it withheld records it is required to release under the Freedom of Information Act. Records obtained so far show that a non-public memorandum from the Energy Information Administration was provided to Secretary Granholm less than two weeks before the President announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil in November 2021. The heavily redacted memo indicates that DOE officials believed retail gas prices would decrease in the first few quarters of 2022 and provided an estimated retail price drop tied to a per barrel release from the SPR. This indicates the Administration recognized gas prices would decline regardless of any release from SPR but that the release was timed to be able to take maximum political advantage of the natural price drop while weakening the nation’s ability to call on the SPR to meet a real supply emergency.

However, the heavily redacted documents do not reveal the details of the projections. Neither do they show to what extent the decision to release 50 million barrels sought either to rely on those projections to reduce retail gas prices to Trump-era levels or claim credit for already-projected falling gas prices. Additional document productions made under supervision of the court will continue to shed light on DOE’s motivations and whether their actions in drawing down the SPR are just more evidence of dysfunctional energy policies.

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

“The decision by the Biden Administration to drain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, absent a clear emergency and armed with the expectation of several quarters of falling retail gas prices, raises many questions about the legality and political nature of the decision-making. The timing and existence of the memo obtained by FGI only enhances the public’s concern that political motives may have played a role. In light of the economics of having to re-stock the reserves at today’s higher prices, the many SPR releases also appear to represent an extremely costly political contribution for the American taxpayer. This is the precise type of dysfunction the Administration’s so-called ‘return to normalcy’ was supposed to avoid.”

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IRS reverses “no records” claim, admits they have records on 87,000 new agents

The IRS previously and repeatedly stated that they had no records on the controversial budget increase.

January 23, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative is announcing a significant development in our investigation into the Biden Administration’s plan for an $80 billion increase to the IRS budget to hire 87,000 new agents, as well as their proposal to require taxpayers to report transactions that total as little as $600. After FGI filed suit against the Treasury Department and the IRS, the IRS walked back claims of having no records about the massive budget increase. In court filings, they have now admitted that they do likely have thousands of records on these issues.

In February 2022, FGI launched an investigation into the Biden administration’s controversial IRS proposal for the budget increase, additional agents, and other supposed enforcement measures, as well as their plan for lowering the mandatory reporting threshold. FGI received an alarming response: the IRS stated they had no records or analysis regarding the proposal for these controversial policy items. Finding this to be impossible and believing that an adequate search was not conducted, FGI appealed the response through the administrative process. The IRS denied that appeal and, for a second time stated that no such records existed. Only after FGI filed a suit against the IRS did the agency signal that they do, in fact, have the records that they previously denied possessing.

The initial lack of transparency from the agency tasked with collecting taxes from Americans raises several questions and concerns. Why did the IRS take almost nine months to admit they had records? Were records properly kept as required by the Federal Records Act? What will these records these show us about the IRS’s plans to further surveil Americans’ finances with its 87,000 new agents? Did the IRS really not conduct any analysis of the controversial change to lower the bank reporting requirement to $600, which will impact millions of taxpayers and force peer-to-peer payment systems such as Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle to send tax forms to individuals with small-dollar transactions? Our mission at FGI is to shine a light on government dysfunction, and we will continue pressing the IRS and the Treasury Department in court to release the information the public has a right to review.

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

“What do you know? The IRS budget proposal for 87,000 new agents at a cost of $80 billion did not just appear out of thin air. Based on the 8,000 documents and 150,000 potentially responsive pages exposed in litigation, this type of record-keeping would land most Americans in hot water or worse. Yet, FGI’s success is hardly worth cheering for as the battle for transparency is just beginning in what appears to be a long legal fight ahead. Sadly, the American public – oftentimes lower-income citizens – won’t have the resources or expertise to challenge the IRS when their new army of auditors comes knocking. FGI will continue to press in court for the release of the information that will shine a light on the plans posing a real threat to many law-abiding Americans.”

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