Press Releases

FGI Files Suit Against Department of Education for Not Releasing Records on Student Loan Forgiveness

Without Congressional approval, is the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program legal?

March 17, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a transparency lawsuit against the Department of Education (ED) for withholding records regarding student loan forgiveness and the extension of the moratorium on loan repayments through the end of December 2022.

In August 2022, FGI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records regarding whether the ED took political considerations into account on the plan and timing of the student loan forgiveness program. This loan “forgiveness” by the federal government does not “eliminate” the loan, as many would believe, but would rather shift the burden of payment from borrowers to the federal government, funded by the taxpaying public. With no prior congressional directive or approval, this program has become the subject of much legal debate, with both ethical and moral concerns. In fact, these debates have now gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who seems skeptical at best, regarding the legality of such a program.

While ED initially responded that they had received the FOIA request, they soon began to delay, citing the need to “conduct a vast search across multiple program offices, which we anticipate will result in a large amount of responsive records.” Since then, ED has become unresponsive and continued to withhold documents, thus resulting in FGI’s lawsuit.

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

“Checks and balances between the three branches of our federal government exist for a reason. Our system cannot work if any one branch decides to unilaterally enact new policy. The student loan forgiveness program estimated to cost more than $400 billion, and the decision to bypass Congress altogether raises both constitutional and ethical questions. While the courts are reviewing the legal concerns, FGI is focused on introducing transparency to what many believe was a politically driven decision months before the midterms and a handout to the administration’s most ardent special interest allies. We must also ask ourselves, is it truly fair to shift the burden of payment of these student loans onto the general taxpaying public, especially if those taxpayers already have other debts that were not ‘forgiven’ in kind?”


FGI files suit seeking records on domestic critical minerals ban

The federal government pushing a transition to electric technologies while blocking domestic sources of minerals makes our energy security dependent on China

March 7, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced transparency litigation against the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to release records related to the cancellation of the Twin Metals lease in the Duluth Complex in northeastern Minnesota.

In March 2022, FGI filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records surrounding the Biden administration’s cancellation of the Twin Metals mine. The proposed mine would have tapped into 95 percent of the U.S. nickel reserves and 88 percent of its cobalt, minerals necessary for electric battery technology. FGI’s FOIA request seeks to uncover what USDA communicated about the area with outside special interests as the agency pushed Interior to block mining. Those records would be even more enlightening now after recent actions by the administration. In January 2023, the Interior Department imposed a 20-year ban on the project, prohibiting any mining in the area for the foreseeable future. The stated reason blocking the mine is its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, managed by USDA’s Forest Service. Almost a year after FGI filed the initial FOIA request, litigation appears to be the only path to obtaining the documents.

While the Biden administration pushes increased use of electricity technologies, it has simultaneously placed roadblocks on the ability to reach that goal using domestic sources. The actions appear to put America’s green future in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Shortly after canceling the Twin Metals lease, the administration acknowledged that the United States was behind China, which already accounts for 60 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals. The incident represents yet another aspect of the federal government’s perplexing and dysfunctional energy policies.

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

“The Biden Administration appears set on tying the fate of the country’s green transition to the whims of the Chinese Communist Party. The Twin Metals Mine is one such project that could have made the United States a competitor in the global critical mineral supply chain. Inexplicably, supply chain, human rights, and geopolitical concerns over the rise of China seem to have given way to the wishes of special interest groups opposed to any domestic mining or energy production. The public deserves to know why this mining project was really cancelled and who the key players were in this decision.”


FGI investigates effort by President’s brother to cash in on family name under guise of environmental justice

Frank Biden scheme to use environmental justice agenda to develop class action lawsuit presents ethical landmines for senior government officials

March 6, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced an investigation into potential inappropriate interference by Frank Biden, the President’s brother, on an issue that has seen increased attention among several agencies within the Biden Administration. Since January 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Justice all have taken action or appear set to take up a high-profile issue being promoted by the President’s brother. The degree of Frank Biden’s involvement in driving these actions is a key focus of the investigation.

The issue revolves around the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the practice of sugar field burning and environmental justice initiatives to form the policy and legal bases for lowering the already controversial national standards. As it stands, the President’s brother appears intent on using the sugar burning issue to enrich his current employer, a Florida law firm that has attempted to develop a class action around the issue. At least one misstep by Mr. Frank Biden has already been reported when his employer, the Berman Law Group, ran an ad in the Daily Business Review on President Biden’s Inauguration Day attempting to leverage their employee’s famous last name. The ad promoted a class action lawsuit against Florida sugar cane growers after the firm made the claim that controlled burns in sugar fields affect the health of nearby residents, particularly those communities at the center of the administration’s major environmental justice push.

Since the ad ran, the EPA has met often with powerful special interests, notably the Sierra Club, that appear to have been pulled into the President’s brother’s issue campaign. The effort at EPA to implement stricter NAAQS standards as part of the increasingly expansive environmental justice agenda appears well underway. As a supportive measure, the DOJ may be jumping in to the fray with its environmental justice litigation strategy placing companies at the center of environmental justice claims likely top targets. Unfortunately, these facts only validate concerns of inappropriate political interference and coercion by the President’s brother and his allies.

FGI has submitted FOIAs to the EPA seeking to discover to what extent Frank Biden or any of his associates at the Berman Law Group had contact with anyone at these agencies regarding sugar cane burns. Along with these FOIA requests, FGI has also submitted a FOIA to NASA. In July 2021, seven months after Frank Biden’s class action lawsuit ad, it was reported that NASA awarded a research grant of “over a quarter of a million dollars” to investigate these issues. Given the timeline of events and the possibility that the research could aid Frank Biden’s class action lawsuit, the highly respected space agency may prove yet another player in a potential influence scheme.

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

“While advertising yourself as ‘the president’s brother’ to gain clients is an ethical grey area, using that title to gain special access to government agencies is not. The timeline of Berman Law Group’s class action lawsuit and the EPA’s policy action, DOJ’s environmental justice office, and NASA’s research funding into the very same issue pushed by Frank Biden raise too many red flags to ignore. Americans deserve to know if their tax dollars went towards aiding Frank Biden’s various business endeavors and the environmental justice advocates allied with the Biden Administration.”


FGI sues FTC for failing to release records on investigation targeting meat industry

As the nation’s food supply chain comes under focus yet again, the FTC’s role remains unclear

February 20, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a transparency lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for withholding records regarding their investigation into alleged price gouging by the meat industry. This is FGI’s third suit against the FTC as it continues to be weaponized against the private sector in face of persistent inflation many speculate is being fueled by government policies.In

November 2021, as meat prices skyrocketed, the Biden Administration called for an FTC investigation into the meat industry. This announcement came on the heels of public criticism following high meat prices during Fourth of July celebrations. As the political heat continued to build, senior administration officials attempted to shift blame to the meat industry for what they claimed was price gouging. FGI filed a Freedom of Information Act request in August 2022 to reveal the basis and potential special interests driving the calls for an investigation.

The FTC has been unresponsive and continues to withhold the documents, leading to FGI’s latest lawsuit. The facts surrounding the investigation appear to be yet another example of the Biden Administration using the FTC as a political shield to redirect blame onto the private sector. Along with the meat industry, the Biden Administration has ordered investigations into the oil and gas industry and the baby formula industry at similar points when fending off political blame for those respective crises. As supply chain disruptions and inflation continue to roil the economy, some wonder whether additional industries such as the egg industry will find themselves facing investigation as the administration and its special interest allies look to shift blame.

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

“On issue after issue, in the face of public scrutiny over whether its own policies bear any fault, the administration’s default position has been to investigate the private sector. Instead of engaging with industries in a cooperative way to address our supply chain crisis and rampant inflation, the Biden Administration appears to have weaponized the FTC against the most productive individuals and companies in America. The question now is what special interests are driving this dysfunctional strategy and which industry may be next. FGI intends to find out.”



Are Penguins the Biden Administration’s Secret Weapon to Defund American Energy?

Decision to list “currently stable” Antarctic penguin appears to be a backdoor to shutting down fossil fuel and green energy development.

February 13, 2023

(Washington, DC) – The Functional Government Initiative (FGI) is seeking information on the basis for the recent decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS or Service) decision to list the emperor penguin as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The FWS announcement, made in late October 2022 just before the midterm elections, was cited as a “call to action” for those concerned about climate change. But the listing may also impede the expansion of clean energy production as well.

The Department of the Interior (DOI), of which FWS is a sub-agency has made climate change and blocking domestic energy development a key priority in keeping with the agenda of the Biden Administration. In the last two years, leadership at the Department has been criticized for illegally halting all new oil and gas leases and throwing up several roadblocks to existing energy development projects. The Department’s opposition to development has focused largely on fossil fuel-related projects but has also extended to the nation’s most promising opportunities to explore and mine critical minerals necessary for the green energy transition.

This latest decision to place the emperor penguin on the threatened species list raises several immediate concerns among those interested in energy independence from hostile foreign nations including China, Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. Once finalized, the listing may create a legal basis to halt practically any major commerce or large development project – energy or otherwise – around the world based on a projected contribution to increased carbon emissions. FWS Director Martha Williams describes the listing as a “call to action” while indicating emperor penguin populations “appear to be currently stable.” The Service cites models showing the potential for a reduction of 26 percent to 47 percent in the penguin population by 2050 – nearly 30 years into the future – while also admitting that many populations of the species will “most likely remain stable.”

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

“This may seem like low-key announcement by the Fish and Wildlife Service, but it has the potential to be a death blow for any future development projects that deep-pocketed, litigation-happy, environmental special interests place in their sights. Giving the emperor penguin ESA protections because of the hypothetical, theoretical future effects of climate change, all while the population remains ‘currently stable,’ is the definition of dysfunction. If allowed to stand, FWS will have effectively eliminated any conceivable limit on the Endangered Species Act’s reach. In the midst of record inflation and a world-wide energy crisis, this is a stunning development. The public deserves to know which special interests have worked with Secretary Haaland’s leadership team to drive this monumental decision.”


Despite claiming it had “no records” on hiring 87,000 new agents, IRS may have thousands of pages of records

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 indicated that they 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 may, 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 indicate they had records? Were records properly kept as required by the Federal Records Act? What will these records 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 pages of potentially responsive records exposed in our 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.”


USDA Secretary Vilsack’s Leadership of the Supply Chain Task Force – All Hat and No Cattle

Agriculture Secretary AWOL from Task Force While Calling for Investigation of Private Sector

January 20, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative announced findings from litigation around the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) response to the ongoing supply chain crisis. Records obtained show that Secretary Vilsack’s leadership of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force was not only lacking – it was nonexistent.

Amidst much fanfare, in June 2021, the White House announced the creation of the “Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force” to address “structural weaknesses in both domestic and international supply chains [that] threaten America’s economic and national security.” The Administration explained that the Task Force would take a “whole of government approach” to tackling these threats and assigned the secretaries of Agriculture, Transportation, and Commerce to lead the effort. USDA proudly announced Secretary Tom Vilsack’s selection as co-chair of the Task Force that would “convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions—large and small, public or private—that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints related to the economy’s reopening….” Secretary Vilsack also touted the robust role he expected the Task Force to play.

FGI submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the records of Secretary Vilsack or anyone else he delegated to participate in the Task Force meetings. After more than five months after the request, only after FGI filed a federal lawsuit, USDA produced a “final” response of merely 19 pages, 14 pages of which copies of the public statements from the White House and USDA. While USDA has indicated these are all the records they have on the topic, none were dated after the Task Force’s creation and no records exist to evidence Secretary Vilsack or any of his deputies participating in – much less co-chairing – the Task Force.

Notably, the Task Force itself seems to have been disrupted by the absence of another of its “co-leaders,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose official calendars from his two-month paternity leave show he apparently also participated in no Task Force meetings during that time.

Interestingly, while the USDA appears to be MIA when it came to finding solutions to the supply chain crisis, another ongoing FGI investigation shows USDA was quite active in the effort to target and place political blame on meat producers for empty shelves and rising food prices. Across multiple issues, this appears to be a favorite approach of the current administration’s approach to any type of crisis – investigate the private sector while ignoring any federal policy that may be contributing to out-of-control inflation and supply chain challenges.

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

“The supposed ‘whole of government’ approach taken by the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force under the leadership of Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack might be more aptly called a ‘hole in government’ approach. As the Administration rightly recognized in creating the Task Force, supply chain issues threaten the economic and national security of the country. Secretary Vilsack’s failure to convene a single meeting with his fellow leaders, while dedicating federal resources to investigate and blame the private sector, shows that the Task Force was little more than a cynical attempt to signal engagement on supply chain disruptions while, in fact, doing little or nothing.”


Watchdog seeks records on HHS Secretary Becerra’s recommendation for a COVID shot every two months

HHS has not released any scientific information on its new vaccine-timing recommendation, leaving America confused.

December 12. 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced an investigation into the announcement by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra that recommends a COVID vaccine every two months, just a day after the administration stated that only one shot a year is recommended. FGI is seeking documents surrounding the communications and studies the Secretary relied on for this new recommendation so that they can be available for independent review.

On November 28, Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted, “One shot, once a year—that’s all most people will need to stay protected from COVID year-long.” The very next day, Secretary Becerra put out a similar message, except he recommended vaccine doses every two months. Judging from these tweets, especially without any scientific documentation for the public to review, Secretary Becerra apparently recommends six times more vaccine doses per year than the Vice President recommends. Becerra repeated his two-month recommendation in another tweet on November 30.

With repeated and differing messages within only a few days, these announcements are causing confusion, particularly given the blanket recommendation to all Americans provided by Secretary Becerra. The messages could also have dire public health impacts if further clarity is not provided by HHS. COVID-19 vaccines have been the subject of multiple allegations of scientific integrity violations by senior government officials, including those surrounding Secretary Becerra. Recent media stories indicate there may have been an intentional suppression by the CDC of the ability to report potential side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. Other stories have reported that the traditional approval process for the vaccine and booster shots for various populations have at times been disregarded. With this knowledge in mind, the recent announcement has served to both heighten Americans’ anxiety about the danger of COVID-19 if they forego a booster and expose millions more Americans to potential side effects that have apparently gone unreported.

Millions of healthy Americans across the country deserve to know what the science says so they can best protect themselves. FGI has demanded expedited processing from HHS to find out.

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

“While Americans are consistently told to ‘trust the science’ when it comes to matters of public health, they are rarely being shown the science underpinning these decisions. Going from one shot a year to six shots a year in less than 24 hours without any justifying data leaves Americans confused and concerned with their government’s ability to respond to health crises. It could also unnecessarily straddle millions of healthy young Americans with a not-insignificant exposure to myocarditis and little to show for it outside of a boosted vaccine count. The public deserves to know what scientific information – if any – Secretary Becerra reviewed before his recommendation for bi-monthly booster shots was issued.”


Watchdog files suit against FTC for blocking records on baby formula shortage investigation

The agency has launched multiple investigations into “top-level” crises facing the country

October 31, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced transparency litigation against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for blocking records surrounding the FTC’s investigation into the baby formula shortage crisis.

In May 2022, the nation began to experience a shortage of baby formula after a major producer was shut down in February by the FDA for health violations as some of the formula from that facility had been contaminated with bacteria. However, it was soon revealed that a whistleblower tried to warn the FDA as early as October 2021 about the conditions and what could happen if they did not act. Unfortunately, the FDA had a series of missteps in response. Most notably, the whistleblower’s report was lost in the FDA’s mailroom for four months.

Instead of digging deep into what caused the crisis and what could have been done differently to stop it, the administration directed the FTC to investigate baby formula manufacturers. Between industry consolidation and price gouging, administration officials appeared intent on shifting all responsibility to the private sector. This is not the first time the administration has turned to the FTC to avoid accountability for an emerging crisis, as the public has witnessed domestic energy producers and the meat industry pegged for unstoppable inflation. FGI has an ongoing case against the FTC for withholding records pertaining to its oil and gas investigation.

Americans deserve to know what this FTC investigation into the baby formula producers is accomplishing, if anything, that can help alleviate the crisis and provide information that could stop it from happening again. Due to the urgency of the ongoing baby formula shortages, FGI has filed suit to force the FTC to release the information.

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

“Launching FTC investigations has been a favored tactic of this administration in the face of multiple crises. Instead of changing policy or personnel, the FTC has been called in to refocus criticism on the private sector. Americans deserve to know what this investigation is doing to get baby formula back on the shelves and how it can help prevent future shortages.”


Watchdog files suit against DOT; FHWA for blocking records on controversial highway memo

Transportation has been reluctant to release records surrounding the December 2021 memo discouraging states from spending funds on expanding roads

October 6, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced transparency litigation against the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for failing to release records surrounding a December 2021 FHWA memo asking states to use funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) for bike lanes and climate resilience instead of maximizing investment in highway expansion and new bridges.

In November 2021, Congress passed the BIL, a whopping $1.2 trillion funding bill that was sold to the public as an investment in America’s infrastructure. However, on December 16, 2021, the FHWA released a memo laying out “guidance” for states on how to spend the funds they would receive from the BIL, calling it an “overarching framework to prioritize the use of BIL resources on projects that will Build a Better America.” The guidance encouraged states to spend funds on climate projects and bike lanes rather than the traditional infrastructure that had been a primary selling point of trillion dollar bill. The memo came during the height of the nation’s supply chain crisis when support for investment in new infrastructure was at its peak. The catalyst for the memo and the influence of special interests on its development remain open questions that FGI is seeking to identify through its FOIA request.

Environmental special interests’ backroom involvement in decisions about how to allocate funds provided in the administration’s massive spending legislation – specifically the America Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act – has been an ongoing concern for outside watchdogs over the past year and a half.

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

“Trillions of taxpayer dollars have been doled out over the past 20 months with little to show for it but higher inflation and a drained strategic petroleum reserve. Whether it’s the pandemic, crumbling infrastructure, or runaway inflation, it’s unclear how Americans’ tax dollars are being spent or whether they are being used consistent with the promises made while attempting to sell the legislation to the nation and during the public relations celebrations following passage. Americans deserve to know who on the inside is making these decisions and why they are opting to spend taxpayer dollars towards the goals of special interest groups rather than investing in what Americans need.”