FGI

Biden administration put PRESSURE on fact-checkers to change the rating on claims it was going to ban gas stoves, damning internal emails reveal

By Nikki Schwab (The Daily Mail)

Biden administration officials put pressure on the fact-checking website Snopes to change claims that the government was going to ban gas stoves over climate change concerns.

Fox News Channel reported Thursday on internal emails unearthed in a Freedom of Information Act request by the GOP-leaning watchdog group Functional Government Initiative.

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Biden officials successfully pressured fact-checker to alter gas stoves ban rating: Watchdog

By Gabe Kaminsky (Washington Examiner)

The Biden administration worked successfully to pressure the fact-checking website Snopes to change its accuracy rating for whether a federal gas stoves ban was under consideration, a watchdog said based on internal emails.

Republican lawmakers raised concerns after commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. of the Consumer Product Safety Commission proposed the idea in 2022 of a ban on gas stoves to protect the climate, prompting Snopes in early January 2023 to issue a “mixture” rating on its accuracy level. In the initial fact-check, Snopes said the CPSC was “currently considering a ban on gas stoves if they can’t be made safer, due to concerns over harmful indoor pollutants that cause health and respiratory problems,” though noted that “the ban has not been put in place,” according to archived records.

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Biden admin pressured Snopes to change its fact-check rating on rumored gas stove ban, internal emails show

By Thomas Catenacci (Fox News)

Biden administration officials successfully pressured fact-checking website Snopes to alter its rating on a fact check it conducted regarding a potential federal ban on gas stoves, according to internal communications.

In early January 2023, Snopes issued a “mixture” rating on the claim that the Biden administration was considering a ban on gas-powered stovetops, citing comments made by a senior official overseeing product regulations. Shortly before the fact check, Richard Trumka Jr., a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), said such a ban was “on the table.”

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East Palestine Settlement Doesn’t Erase Government Dysfunction

(Washington, DC) – Today, a settlement for $600 million was reached in a class-action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern. While this is a positive development for those affected by the disaster, there is still much more to do to restore the community of East Palestine. FGI’s investigation of the government’s handling of the disaster so far has revealed a major conflict of interest between an EPA lawyer and the law firm representing Norfolk Southern and the EPA Administrator’s whereabouts the days following the disaster, which included trips to promote electric buses and meetings with Hollywood actor Idris Elba. FGI will continue our investigation so that the American people can know more about what our government is doing.

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

“This settlement may bring some resolution of this tragic saga for the residents East Palestine. However, it doesn’t change the history of a botched and callous government response: Pete Buttigieg initially refusing to visit the disaster sight, the troubling conflict of interest with an EPA lawyer’s spouse representing Norfolk Southern, and EPA Administrator Regan prioritizing electric buses and foreign trips with celebrities over the residents of East Palestine. The administration’s handling of this disaster presents a clear example of how dysfunctional government can be when those in powerful positions are apparently focused on special-interest agendas and self-promotion instead of the taxpayers they serve.”

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‘The Swamp Is Getting Deeper’: EPA Awards Billions From Biden’s Landmark Climate Bill To Orgs Loaded With Dem Insiders

By Nick Pope (Daily Caller)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded nearly $14 billion Thursday to three organizations with deep ties to the Biden administration and the Democratic Party.

The EPA announced the winners of $20 billion of funding from the massive Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), a program created by President Joe Biden’s signature climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. Among the selected awardees are Climate United, the Coalition for Green Capital and Power Forward Communities, three groups that are taking home almost $14 billion combined to establish financing operations for a wide variety of green technology and energy projects under the GGRF’s National Clean Investment Fund.

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DHS-tied ‘misinformation’ researcher personally advised Big Tech on content moderation

By Gabe Kaminsky (Washington Examiner)

A left-wing researcher who chaired a since-dissolved Department of Homeland Security “misinformation” panel accused of facilitating censorship directly advised social media companies on content moderation policies, Kate Starbird testified to Congress behind closed doors.

Starbird, a professor leading the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public to investigate “disinformation” and “misinformation,” has faced heightened scrutiny from House Republicans for her roles with the Election Integrity Partnership, which worked to suppress speech before the 2020 election, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s defunct Misinformation and Disinformation Subcommittee. But Starbird had an even more significant open line than previously known with Big Tech — which apparently sought her guidance on approaching how to engage in content moderation.

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FDA’s Anti-Vape Stance Helps Chinese E-Cigs Thrive

By Pete McGinnis (RealClearHealth)

Esco Bars is the new “bathtub gin.” A century on from alcohol prohibition and the same spirit that couldn’t kill spirits is failing against unregulated e-cigarettes. And just as the absence of sanctioned distillations made room for moonshine and rot gut, domestic vapes are being supplemented (to put it mildly) by products that are cheaper to make and more potent. But this time around, we don’t need a constitutional amendment to tackle the problem created by the last constitutional amendment.

Instead, we need the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – specifically its Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) – to use its budget and do its job (with a little help from Border Patrol, but more on that later). The FDA was given jurisdiction over e-cigarettes in 2016. E-cigarettes and other vapes have been marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking – delivering nicotine without tar and some other byproducts of tobacco. They have helped many smokers quit and are therefore considered a harm-reduction tool.

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Inside the secret struggle to find ‘official rationale’ for Biden’s oil, gas leasing halt

By Ramsey Touchberry (Washington Times)

Senior lawyers at the Interior Department were caught off guard by President Biden‘s abrupt halt of new oil and natural gas lease sales shortly after taking office and wrestled to put an “official rationale” on the decision, emails obtained by The Washington Times show.

More than a month after the January 2021 executive order from Mr. Biden, career Interior Department officials relied on internet searches for news articles with media statements from agency representatives to respond to concerned governors of states affected by the decision.

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Lead EPA Official Working on East Palestine Claims She Didn’t Know Husband’s Law Firm Reps Norfolk Southern

Agency ethics staff looks away from striking conflict of interest.

(Washington, DC) – Watchdog Functional Government Initiative (FGI) has uncovered records exposing a blatant conflict of interest among a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) involved in the subsequent congressional investigation of the East Palestine train wreck. FGI has learned from FOIA documents that Deputy General Counsel for Environmental Programs and Oversight Natalia Sorgente worked for four months directly on the aftermath of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment before informing the department’s ethics office that her husband’s law firm represented the railroad responsible for the disaster.

The Norfolk Southern derailment and toxic chemical spill that occurred on February 3, 2023, was the centerpiece of national news coverage for nearly a month. On February 21, the EPA legally ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the spill. Mrs. Sorgente, a Biden appointee, was involved in the EPA response as a senior member of the agency’s Solid Waste and Emergency Response Law Office (SWERLO) and through her “role working on Congressional oversight.” It was not until June 3, 2023, that she told the Ethics Office about her husband’s connection to the primary target of her agency’s investigation.

Mrs. Sorgente claimed ignorance, asserting that her husband, Joel Millar, hadn’t known his firm, WilmerHale, was involved in the case despite his 23-year tenure with the firm. The incredulous claim is only heightened after considering the extent of WilmerHale’s representation in matters very likely to have touched on matters involving his wife’s work as a senior EPA official. For instance, according to American Lawyer, WilmerHale made known its representation of Norfolk Southern “in many of the inquiries arising out of the events in Ohio” and that their work “spanned a number of agencies and as it relates to congressional oversight, a number of different congressional committees …”

Despite waiting four months before raising the potential conflict of interest with agency ethics officials, Deputy GC Sorgente lobbied to remain on the case. While ethics officials told her she must recuse, Ms. Sorgente resisted, “Given that it may be hard to replace me, is this something where a waiver might be considered?” Based on records obtained by FGI, ethics officials quickly appeared to give in to Sorgente’s request, stating “it is enough for you to know what your recusal obligation is” and requiring no further inquiry. The records raise numerous red flags about both the actions of Deputy General Counsel Sorgente and the EPA ethics officials who appeared to dismiss the apparent conflict of interest without much fanfare.

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

“The EPA is asking us to believe the unbelievable. Even if Mr. Millar didn’t know Norfolk Southern was a client, somebody there did. Is there no elevator chitchat or watercooler talk at WilmerHale? Did nobody in his office know what Mr. Millar’s wife does for a living? And it certainly seems impossible that Ms. Sorgente could field congressional oversight issues on the EPA’s highest priority challenge without knowing who was representing the company responsible for it. And to top it off, the ethics gatekeepers seemed remarkably disinterested in putting an end to this apparent conflict of interest. Dysfunction barely begins to describe what we are seeing at the EPA.”

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EPA lawyer handled Ohio train wreck despite her husband’s law firm representing Norfolk Southern

By Ramsey Touchberry (Washington Times)

A senior Environmental Protection Agency lawyer managed cleanup efforts and congressional oversight of the toxic train derailment last year in East Palestine, Ohio, although her husband’s law firm was defending the company responsible for the wreck.

Documents obtained by The Washington Times reveal that the EPA ethics office allowed Natalia Sorgente, deputy general counsel for environmental programs and oversight, to remain on the case after conflict of interest concerns emerged months into her work.

Her husband’s firm, WilmerHale, represented the Norfolk Southern railroad.

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