Press Releases

Politicized Navy Sacrifices Recruitment, Ethics to Push LGBTQ Activism

Circumventing recruiters, impersonating reporters, and changing information all in service to an agenda.

June 1, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, government watchdog Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced it has found troubling evidence of politicization and ethical impropriety in documents obtained from the Navy in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents come from the office of the Navy Chief Information Officer (CHINFO) and regard Navy preparations to participate in “Pride Month” in June 2022.

In a series of e-mails about modifying Navy shields and symbols with rainbow colors and the transgender flag, employees of the Navy Newsroom disparaged those who question the military’s role in pride month as “less savory members of our audience” and “bad actors.” Elsewhere in the documents, CHINFO personnel identified opponents of the military’s celebration of Pride Month as “bigots.” The staff also discussed how to evade objections to the LGBTQ modifications from within the Navy’s own Recruiting Command, with one employee suggesting giving the recruiters no notice of the changes until it was too late for any of the recruiters to express concerns.

In chat messages from May 5, 2022, a naval superior instructed a naval officer, prior to a news conference regarding their LGBTQ posts, to impersonate a reporter and ask questions to advance the agenda: “[Y]ou will act like a non‐navy Journalist. Please use your real name because I will not be able to remember fake names. You’re from [left-wing feminist site] Jezebel and will ask questions like: Before we get started, what is your gender identity and your preferred pronouns?”

Other suggested questions included, “IF THEIR GENDER IDENTIY IS DIFFERENT THAN THEIR OUTWARD IDENTITY: What hardships do you face being in uniform as a ______. Does the Navy and your peers allow you to be your true self?” and “How did you develop Harpy Daniels persona, what made you want to so openly tie her to your service?”

“Harpy Daniels” is the drag stage name of Navy Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, whom the Navy recently named a “digital ambassador” to recruit young people.

The Navy also has issued conflicting statements about LGBTQ “safety transfers,” which can be made when stated concerns for the safety of service members and/or their dependents result in a permanent transfer prior to a normal projected rotation date.

Also, it appears that the armed services are offering solutions in search of problems. For example, amid a series of claims that state laws and policies are being enacted to curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ persons, branches of the military were prepared to consider requests for “safety transfers” to new duty stations for service members and their dependents if they felt unsafe or discriminated against on the basis of such state laws. Yet, the Navy candidly acknowledged to a reporter last June that it had not received any requests for safety transfers for reasons related to state laws or policies that may affect LGBTQ+ Service members or their dependents. However, two weeks later, a message to the same reporter said, “The Navy had 433 re‐assignments similar to safety transfers in FY21,” without additional detail about those re-assignments.

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

“It appears there are personnel in the U.S. Navy who believe promoting the LGBTQ agenda is more important than their ethical responsibilities to keep politics separate from their responsibilities in the military. Devising schemes to circumvent any input of recruiters while the armed forces suffer a recruiting crisis puts the nation at risk. Impersonating reporters as well as offering conflicting answers to inquiries are certainly nothing to be proud of regardless of what month it is.”


Efforts to Ban Gas Stoves Subject of New Litigation

Gas stoves, a staple in many Americans’ homes, targeted by a new proposed ban despite public claims to the contrary

June 1, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced lawsuits against three federal agencies, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, regarding records about the Biden Administration’s plans to ban new gas stoves.

FGI submitted FOIA requests to those agencies to clarify the Administration’s reasoning and to make sense of seemingly conflicting statements regarding the scope of proposed regulations that could effectively ban gas stoves. With no response within the time limits under the law, FGI is filing its lawsuits to compel their release.

The ostensible spur to government action was a December 2022 research study that indicated 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States is attributable to gas stove use. In a January 2023 interview, CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr. stated that gas stoves were a “hidden hazard” and “products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Later, Trumka clarified in a tweet that the proposed new gas stove regulations would apply only to new ones. Americans who currently have gas and choose to switch to electric would receive a rebate under the Inflation Reduction Act.

CPSC Chair Commissioner Alexander Hoehn-Saric also stated that “CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards. But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.” However, a leaked internal memo written by Trumka stated there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a gas stove ban. That memo pre-dated the release of the asthma study, showing that the CPSC’s move to ban gas stoves was already long in the works.

Meanwhile, the DOE proposed its first-ever efficiency regulation on cooking appliances, which could potentially make 50 percent of currently available gas stove models non-compliant. The contradictory actions raise questions over the outside influence and intentions behind the apparent dysfunction driving the Administration’s approach toward gas stoves. Also, there are calls for HUD to ban stoves in public housing, potentially adding another agency to the effort.

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

“The Biden Administration has been anything but clear with the public about its intentions relating to gas stoves. The various efforts to ‘study’ their use has been seen as a predicate for a future ban while other federal agencies have taken actions that fly in the face of what they’ve told the public. FGI intends to find out who is driving the push to regulate or ban gas stoves. The American people deserve to know why they’re home appliance options may be curtailed even further.”


FGI Sues EPA to Uncover Frank Biden’s Potential Influence over Environmental Justice Issues

Did Frank Biden use his family name to incite government actions that would likely benefit an ongoing legal action from his employer?

May 2, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a transparency lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for withholding records regarding potential communication between Frank Biden and associates at the Berman Law Group, his employer. The FOIA request also sought related records on the practice of sugar cane field burning during harvest, the subject of a class action effort spearheaded by Mr. Biden’s employer.

Environmental activists have latched on to sugar cane field burning as a reason to demand the government lower the already controversial National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The Berman Law Group, where Frank Biden is a non-attorney senior advisor, ran a newspaper ad on President Biden’s Inauguration Day, promoting a class action lawsuit against Florida sugar cane growers, claiming that the controlled sugar cane field burns were affecting the health of nearby residents. Frank Biden’s promoting his firm while invoking his family name raises questions as to whether there were also communications with federal regulators that could bolster the prospects of its class action and, if so, whether those communications resulted in inappropriate political pressure being placed on career officials.

Powerful environmental special interest groups, including the Sierra Club and others, have touted their support of the same issues involved in the President’s brother’s work. With the EPA considering stricter NAAQS standards at the same time as the Department of Justice opening up a new litigation office to target private sector actors over environmental justice concerns, the situation raises the question of whether Frank Biden’s personal financial interests are playing any role in the government’s policy and litigation efforts. The records FGI requested would allow public scrutiny and bring transparency to several major government actions fraught with ethics landmines. At this stage in FGI’s transparency efforts, the government’s non-response has made litigation the only option.

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

“The combination of Berman Law Group’s class action lawsuit and the administration’s environmental justice initiatives raise potential ethical concerns. We already know that Frank Biden invoked his relationship with his brother in an ad for his employer. Did he, his colleagues, and their special interest allies do the same with any communications with regulators whose actions could impact their case? Is the DOJ getting in on the act by preparing to file litigation against the same sugar industry players at the center of Frank Biden’s class action effort? The withheld records could likely assist the public in assessing whether these concerns are warranted.”

FGI Files Suit Against DOJ for Records on Covering Lois Lerner and Holly Paz’s Legal Bills

Taxpayers may be footing the legal bills of IRS officials at the center of targeting scandal

April 18, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a transparency lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for withholding records regarding billings by or payments to the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP for attorneys’ fees or other legal costs relating to the representation of Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, officials at the center of the political targeting scandal at the IRS.

The violations of numerous IRS rules and the constitutional rights of Americans were documented extensively, including in a staff report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, settlements in lawsuits, and an FBI investigation. In 2013, Lerner, then-acting IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, even appeared to apologize for inappropriately targeting conservative groups during a meeting of the American Bar Association. In NorCal Tea Party Patriots, et al. v. The Internal Revenue Service, et al., Lerner and Paz, her top aide and former IRS Director of the Office of Rulings and Agreements, were represented by the law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Taxpayers may have been on the hook to pay her legal bills even after it became clear that Lerner was likely involved in misconduct, after she refused to testify, and after multiple settlements between the federal government and outside parties pertaining to her conduct. Those legal bills might still be covered by the taxpayers as Lerner has continued fighting to keep records sealed from the decade-old scandal.

In July 2022, FGI filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records regarding the DOJ’s billing and payment records for attorneys’ fees or other legal costs relating to the representation of Lerner and Paz. After multiple delays, the DOJ has been unresponsive, prompting FGI to file suit to get these records. With the IRS making a visit to Matt Taibbi’s home at the same time he testified before Congress about government abuses, it appears the weaponization of the IRS may be continuing.

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

“Even after the IRS agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement related to the targeting scandal, it remains an open question if and for how long DOJ paid the bills. The American public has a right to know. FGI will continue its legal fight so that taxpayers can consider the appropriateness of such costs and the incentive it could provide to other federal officials at the center of misconduct.”


U.S. Government Funds Energy Efforts Abroad as It Restricts Those at Home

Records show Interior supporting foreign energy and mineral production as it hinders domestic sources

April 6, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) released records obtained from the Department of the Interior that raise concerns over the contradictory energy policies being pursued by the Biden administration. The records were obtained as part of an ongoing project by FGI to comprehend the priorities and actions being pursued by President Biden’s top appointees as they attempt to rein in inflation, reduce supply chain dependence on China, and transition away from fossil fuels.

In this year’s State of the Union Address, President Biden affirmed that climate change needs to be addressed immediately. He stated that the oil industry generated massive profits in 2022 and asserted that the US would soon lead the world in clean energy, largely dependent on critical minerals. However, records obtained by FGI reveal dysfunction within the Biden administration’s energy agenda. Although pushing for a “green transition” in the United States, the government is funding overseas oil and gas projects that appear to run counter to that effort. While the administration seeks to shut down oil and gas leasing on public lands domestically, the records demonstrate Interior is using taxpayer funds to support Albania and Somalia’s fossil fuel industry, despite the dramatically reduced environmental standards in those countries relative to the United States. The records reveal the interest in foreign energy efforts beginning on page 467.

The documents provided to FGI reveal Secretary Deb Haaland’s Interior Department is providing funding to Argentina to mine lithium, a critical mineral component in green technologies. Simultaneously, her Department has shut down mining opportunities around Chaco Canyon, a high-profile issue in her home state that saw intense lobbying from a group affiliated with her daughter, the Pueblo Action Alliance. Haaland is currently facing ethics scrutiny over her potentially inappropriate involvement in the issue. She has also exercised her authority to cancel leases and restrict mining of domestic sources of minerals necessary for expanded use of clean electricity technologies. It remains unclear what impact the decision to fund foreign energy projects will have on Interior’s climate change analysis or whether its panoply of mining restrictions have factored into the country’s increased reliance on China for critical minerals.

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

“I find these revelations very concerning. The records obtained by FGI also show that the government is undermining not only its own green transition goals but also America’s ability to meet its energy needs. The administration’s secret financing of foreign energy projects while imposing a moratorium and raising royalty rates at home is hardly a transparent way to run the government. It’s also one unlikely to lead to either a green transition or reduced dependence on China.”


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.”