Press Releases

IRS: “No records” Analyzing or Discussing Proposal to Increase Agents and Reporting Requirements”

IRS claims no internal communications over controversial changes in Biden budget

April 20, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Earlier this year, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) sought records surrounding the proposal to dramatically increase IRS agents and resources amidst political targeting and the leaking of sensitive financial data. A particularly controversial proposal, since abandoned, sought to impose a reporting requirement on US banks for accounts involving more than $600 in a year. Today, FGI announced an alarming new development in our investigation: the IRS stated they had no such records involving the request for more resources, new agents, or any analysis that would justify the controversial policy items.

The response from the IRS is not only surprising but also highly unusual for a large government agency requesting an additional $80 billion in taxpayer resources. Their response raises concerns about whether the IRS is behind an effort to withhold public records that could expose damaging internal reactions and analysis underlying the agency’s actions. Other implications are that the agency was left out of the analysis and projections submitted by high-ranking political appointees, leaving the IRS to defend policies they had no part in constructing. Either way, this situation is not an example of a functional government.

The formal response by the IRS opens the door to a multitude of questions surrounding an already controversial policy. Which agency, if any, conducted the analysis justifying the controversial bank reporting requirement to $600? Who at the IRS discussed this policy with Treasury or the White House? Were records properly kept under the Federal Records Act? It is FGI’s mission to shine a spotlight on government dysfunction and we will continue to do just that. FGI is appealing this response and will keep the public updated.

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

“It is astonishing and frankly unbelievable to hear that the IRS claims to have zero records on a budget request and controversial policy proposal personally defended by the Treasury Secretary, one linked to a price tag of $80 billion and more intrusion into Americans’ private bank records. Given the congressional scrutiny and media attention on these proposals, one would think that the IRS conducted a thorough review before rolling it out. Based on their response, the IRS essentially just told us that they had no hand in the review or implementation of a policy that would affect hundreds of millions of Americans. This is exactly the type of government dysfunction Americans are fed up with.”


Tax Day 2022: IRS Delivers Less Transparency from Themselves, Less Security with Your Information

FGI continues to investigate IRS, Treasury for apparent misconduct

April 18, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today is Tax Day, and many Americans find themselves scrambling to provide the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) all types of information about their sensitive financial affairs, with the expectation that the IRS will keep this information private. Recent experience has shown, however, that whether this information will someday be illegally shared with outside activists or used to obstruct the constitutional rights of Americans to freely associate remains an open question. These concerns remain prevalent as the lack of accountability or availability of public records concerning these abuses continues. This is why over the past several months the Functional Government Initiative has opened multiple investigations into major scandals that have plagued the IRS in recent years. The agency has grown to become one of the most powerful and mysterious actors in the federal government but has proven to provide little transparency into its own activities and little privacy with Americans’ personal information.

Among the investigations, FGI is seeking agency records around the unauthorized leak of sensitive financial information of wealthy American citizens to ProPublica. Even last Wednesday we were reminded of the lasting impact of this unlawful leak when ProPublica published an article with an accompanying database containing the leaked information. Since the leak was discovered last year, the IRS has not made any headway into discovering the source of the leak nor revealed any effort to hold bad actors accountable.

Another FGI inquiry concerns the economic analysis, key players, and supporting materials related to the proposal to increase IRS resources for enforcement personnel and impose a now-discarded $600 threshold allowing the IRS to peer into hundreds of millions of Americans’ bank accounts. This unprecedented power grab and request for more resources has only heightened the public’s scrutiny of the IRS.

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

“Tax Day may not be a fun day, and it certainly isn’t a cheap day, but it shouldn’t be a scary day. Yet with leaks of sensitive data, targeting of organizations based on their politics, and an unprecedented power grab for more authority and IRS agents, this Tax Day should remind every American of the need for accountability at the IRS. And, as with most aspects of government, accountability begins with transparency, which we are still waiting to obtain through our many requests into the agency. Stay tuned as we demand the records the American people are entitled to.”


Critical Minerals Order Continues “Great Transition” Approach; Ignores Pain at Pump

The Federal government reiterates that the only way to lower gas prices is not to use gas at all.

April 7, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Last Thursday, President Biden announced that the Administration would be invoking the Defense Production Act in an attempt to ease potential supply chain issues for electric vehicle components. This order will move funds to private projects for feasibility studies surrounding the extraction of minerals that are essential to building electric vehicle batteries such as lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, and manganese. The invocation of this act is the latest attempt from the Administration to move the American public away from gasoline and towards electric vehicles.

This decision comes as the United States is experiencing the highest gas prices in history for the second month in a row. While the Administration continues to point the finger at Russia and the invasion of Ukraine, inflation and rising gas prices preceded Russian tanks rolling toward Kyiv. If the Administration’s effort to encourage more supply of essential minerals is successful, it could reduce America’s reliance on China, but it remains uncertain how this move would ease any inflation concerns or alleviate energy prices in the short-term.

FGI has repeatedly expressed concerns over the federal government’s perplexing response and actions taken attempting to reduce gas prices. Opening up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and calls to hostile dictators have formed the crux of their approach while requests to reconsider opposition to pipeline infrastructure and oil and gas leases and financing have repeatedly been rejected. The question of which special interests are influencing the government’s anti-fossil fuel policy amid an energy crisis remains the focus of several of FGI’s ongoing investigations and requests for government records. This latest effort only confirms the public interest in finding more answers about how the Administration is functioning.

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

“Exploring the expansion of domestic extraction of minerals is a good step because it may create jobs for the next generation of American workers, but it does not tackle the current fuel crisis. We are on month two of ‘we will do everything we can to lower gas prices,’” yet nothing of substance has been done to accomplish that – as you can see every time you fill up your tank. Either the Administration is hoping the problem will fix itself or that Americans will surrender to astronomically high gas prices. Neither scenario appears plausible. Along with inflation in general, energy prices are crushing the American dream. FGI will continue its investigation of which special interests are dictating the government’s handling of this energy crisis.”


Think Infrastructure Funds Were for Roads and Bridges? April Fools!

Department of Transportation fools Americans, attempts to divert highway funding to projects that do nothing to expand highway capacity

April 1, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Happy April Fools’ Day! The $1.2 trillion (with a “t”) Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in November, was sold to the American people as a commitment to rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges.

And for those who believed that: April Fools! A Department of Transportation policy memo released in December prioritizes BIL funds for bike lanes and climate resiliency instead of maximizing investment in highway expansion and new bridges.

This memo contradicts what its supporters initially promised Americans when promoting the bill. While the memo allows for use of funds for the repair of infrastructure, it sets priorities for such things as projects “that maximize the existing right-of-way for accommodation of non-motorized modes.” It does not, for example, prioritize funds for new infrastructure needed in states where people are flocking to escape high crime and COVID lockdowns. The memo directs staff of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to promote “construction of bicycle and pedestrian lanes, paths, and facilities” by pointing out that those projects can be completed more quickly due to exclusions under environmental regulations. DOT’s policy also prioritizes projects that “help combat the climate crisis” and accommodate technologies such as electric vehicle charging stations and renewable energy generation.

The surprising memo comes during our nation’s ongoing supply chain crisis. Many grocery store shelves are devoid of food, packages take weeks to be delivered, and essential everyday items are nowhere to be found. It makes one wonder: why does the federal government not maximize the infrastructure funds for actual infrastructure? The Functional Government Initiative is announcing an investigation into this policy to uncover the answers.

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

“The federal government appears to have pulled a bait-and-switch on Americans when it promised funding for roads and bridges but gave them bike paths instead. We find it alarming that instead of expanding highways that would help fix the growing supply chain crisis Americans face, the government is prioritizing funds to projects that do not address this crisis. FGI is determined to investigate this bait-and-switch and help make sure we don’t get fooled again.”


COVID aid program “invitation” to fraudsters, without even “minimal checks” – Federal Watchdog

March 31, 2022

(Washington DC) – Over a month ago, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a broad investigation into the federal government’s response to COVID-19 and how that response impacted government operations and the lives of American citizens. These investigations take an expansive look into the decisions that quite possibly changed our lives forever.

In an interview with NBC News, the lead federal watchdog overseeing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), one of the government’s signature programs set up to assist businesses hit by the pandemic, highlighted the rampant fraud and abuse that the watchdog has discovered. Often, when the federal government has set up large loan programs available to the public in response to an economic crisis, the need for expedited deployment of funds is prioritized over safeguards against fraud. The result is usually a big payout to scam artists and an even larger bill for taxpayers. Unfortunately, the lessons learned from the last crisis spending spree – in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis – seemed to have been thrown out the window yet again.

Despite the unprecedented waste, fraud, and abuse seen in the multiple COVID-related spending programs, there is still much left to uncover. Many of the questionable decisions and reckless government action extend beyond federal spending and encroach into the basic freedoms of all Americans. For instance, where are the data and high-quality studies underlying the cloth mask requirements? Who and what were driving the push for vaccine mandates for all federal government employees and contractors? Why did the government initially restrict monoclonal treatments and was the distribution of these treatments based upon objective criteria? And did the federal government give preferential treatment when it came to forgiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans? Finding answers for these questions and more is the goal of FGI’s investigation.

While the current probes continue, FGI will proceed with even more investigations as new discoveries come to light. FGI remains committed to highlighting dysfunction in government and providing the transparency the American people demand.

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

“The American people deserve to know the truth about the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and FGI will continue our search for answers. While many areas of society are returning to a semblance of normalcy, the recent revelations by the federal watchdog in charge of investigating COVID fraud demonstrate there is much more the public should know. Over the next few weeks, we will be announcing more investigations into the federal government’s handling of the pandemic.”


SEC Says Disclosure For Thee But Not For Me

Agency’s rapid response raises questions about use of pre-written denial letters to deflect transparency into major rule that could drive inflation higher

March 28, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative announced concerning developments in its efforts to obtain public records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the SEC’s newly proposed Climate Disclosure Rule. In response to a standard Freedom of Information Act request seeking records relevant to the rule, the independent agency responded with lightning speed – in only a day – to deny and dismiss FGI’s request for public records. This is likely not what Attorney General Garland meant when he issued his memorandum last week imploring agencies to be more responsive to FOIA requesters.

FGI’s request was part of an expanded investigation into the government’s broadening energy and climate agenda, a key driver of inflation for most Americans. Of particular concern are the members of Congress, financial industry titans, and special interest organizations lobbying the SEC to propose a rule that would only worsen this energy crisis.

The proposed rule issued by the SEC on Monday would require public companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions as well any emissions that can be traced to their activities along the value chain. The rule was met with significant scrutiny both in terms of its legality, breadth of regulatory impact and the potential to increase the cost of consumer products across the economy. The move appears set to move America further away from energy independence and discourage public investment in oil and gas companies. The regulatory initiative stands in stark contrast to our European allies, who are reassessing their climate change policies in the face of the energy crisis and the realities of geopolitics.

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

“I’ve never heard of a federal agency working so fast to ‘carefully consider’ a request only to issue a blanket denial within a day. Perhaps I should be less surprised by the agency’s hypocritical approach inherent in mandating climate disclosures for the private sector but dismissing requests for disclosure of its own public records. It does make one wonder what the agency is so concerned we will find that they’ve decided to play hide and seek with these records. In the middle of an energy crisis and record inflation, which special interests were so influential as to force out such an expansive and costly rule? We intend to find out.”


FTC Response Indicates Active Discussion to Investigate Oil and Gas Industry for Price Gouging

March 21, 2022

(Washington, DC) – In midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and skyrocketing inflation and gas prices, the Federal Trade Commission may be months into an investigation of the oil and gas industry.

In November 2021, with gas prices and inflation already well on the rise, President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil and gas industry was illegally profiteering or price gouging customers.

In recent weeks, the President repeated his belief that the oil and gas industry may be price gouging or profiteering, this time citing the wartime circumstances. Whether this statement simply reflects broader opposition to the domestic oil and gas industry or an attempt to shift blame from the federal government’s role in driving inflation higher over the past year – gas prices at the pump have hit records highs and were on the rise before the war in Ukraine – the domestic oil and gas industry appears to be a constant bogeyman for the Biden Administration.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records around the President’s call to investigate the oil and gas industry, the Functional Government Initiative was recently denied all documents from the FTC. The FTC asserts that every record was part of a deliberative and pre-decisional process. FGI is in the process of appealing the decision. However, if the FTC is complying strictly with the requirements of FOIA regarding disclosing documents, it likely means there are active discussions to initiate an investigation or that an investigation has already begun.

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

“Attorney General Garland’s FOIA memo issued last week highlights the obligation of federal agencies to release all information that is not strictly protected under the law. Accordingly, FGI will be appealing the FTC’s decision to withhold all documents related to a possible investigation into the oil and gas industry. In the midst of record inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and after a year of shutting down pipelines and calling for a full transition away from fossil fuels, it rings a bit hollow that increased gas prices are anything but an intended result of the Administration’s current move away from energy independence. We will continue to seek access to records so the public can make up their own mind.”


FGI remains concerned about federal energy policy’s impact on Ukraine war, inflation

The federal government has reversed its initial decision but continues to steer away from energy independence.

March 9, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced it would be reversing course and would move to stop imports of Russian oil into the United States market. The Functional Government Initiative announced last week it had begun an investigation into the initial decision to exclude the Russian energy sector from U.S. sanctions. In spite of yesterday’s reversal, FGI’s probe is expected to yield vital information, allowing the American people to better understand the federal government’s energy priorities.

While FGI commends this decision, the American people have legitimate concerns about the impact of energy policy on rising prices, not only on energy but also across the economy. Concerns don’t end there. News about the decision to move away from Russian imports came alongside developments that may simply result in Americans’ depreciating dollar being redirected to another set of hostile foreign governments. American officials have reportedly begun talks with the Venezuelan government that may lead to easing of economic sanctions. These sanctions were originally placed on Venezuela in 2019 after numerous human rights abuses committed by the government under Nicolas Maduro, a close Putin ally. Talks also continue with Iran, the world’s prime state sponsor of terrorism, which may ease sanctions on the Iranian oil sector.

Energy prices have broad and deep effects on virtually every sector of the economy. As fuel prices continue to rise and widespread inflation continues to afflict American families, FGI will continue investigating how energy policy affects our influence abroad and Americans’ pocketbooks at home.

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

“Last week we expressed our concerns regarding the reluctance to sanction the Russian energy market and announced that we would be seeking information surrounding that decision. However, the current situation creates the fear that we may be moving from funding Russia’s war machine to paying the dictator in Venezuela and the state sponsors of terrorism in Iran. The concerns of the Functional Government Initiative remain. We will continue working to expose the dysfunction of government and investigate the impact of today’s energy policy on our foreign policy and near-record levels of inflation.


FGI investigating federal energy policy’s impact on Ukraine war, inflation

Following State of the Union, decision to exclude energy sector from Russia sanctions continues to raise questions over U.S. energy priorities and buy American goals

March 2, 2022

(Washington, DC) – The Functional Government Initiative announced today it is seeking information from the federal government on the decision to exclude the Russian energy sector from US sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. Oil and gas prices have been on the rise since early 2021, tracking several policy decisions to reduce American oil and gas production move the nation towards alternative sources of energy. Indeed, last year financial titan Larry Fink acknowledged the correlation between the pursuit of “green” policies and the nation’s growing inflation problem. 

The geopolitical consequences of the move away from energy independence have gained renewed attention given the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even as the President expressed his desire during SOTU to increase reliance on Made in America and sanctioned the Russian economy in virtually every other area, America has increased oil purchases from Russia to offset the decline in U.S. oil and natural gas production. Now these purchases may be helping finance Putin’s war machine at the same time we are looking for ways to increase sanctions to deter his actions. The conflicting objectives do not end there. While some legislative voices insist that we should stop all Russian imports (including energy), other senior government leaders are both calling for a further reduction of fossil fuels while tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to fend off rising prices.

Last week, FGI announced its efforts to understand whether the government’s senior leaders are prioritizing policies that appear to increase inflation over those that could ease it. In light of the developments abroad, many Americans would likely be surprised to learn that polices aimed at reducing our carbon footprint continue to dominate not only domestic but also foreign policy concerns. FGI will deepen this inquiry to assess what roles inflation, concern over gas prices, and climate change are playing in our foreign policy and how Buy American goals will change the apparent agenda to move away from energy independence.

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

“After last night’s State of the Union, the continued exclusion of the energy sector in the long list of sanctions imposed on Russia is puzzling given the critical role it has played in funding Putin’s invasion into Ukraine. If it turns out that the move away from energy independence is both driving inflation and hampering our ability to punish hostile dictators, the American public is likely to wonder what interests of the American public are actually being advanced. Our information requests into several agencies will explore the basis for the decision to exclude the Russian energy sector from sanctions and whether government officials believe the increased dependence on foreign energy is ultimately beneficial.  This information will allow the public to better understand what is truly happening.”


Watchdog Investigates Inflation-Related Decisions Amidst War and Rising Energy Prices  

Oil at $100/barrel, war in Eastern Europe, and supply chain crisis all increase need for answers on drivers of inflation

February 25, 2022

(Washington, DC) – The American people recognize inflation levels not seen in 40 years as the top issue facing the country, though events in Europe may soon eclipse this. In its effort to explore the issues most affecting Americans’ daily lives, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a host of new information requests it is sending to federal agencies whose policies could be contributing to this harmful development.

Experts have been exploring the potential contributors to inflation for many months with no consensus on the primary reason. Among the leading contenders is the COVID-19 pandemic and the nearly $5 trillion in federal spending from “COVID relief bills” enacted in 2020 and 2021. Another factor is the supply chain crisis – an issue FGI will also be digging into in the weeks ahead. Together these factors seem to have caused higher demand and lower supply – a perfect recipe for higher prices.

As oil prices exceed $100 per barrel for the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. government’s move away from energy independence – a US policy goal dating back at least 50 years – appears to be adding fuel to the fire. For instance, actions to pause new oil and gas leases, restrict pipeline development, and force climate change analysis into all federal government actions have been identified as potentially exacerbating the spike in energy prices, and subsequently most food and consumer product costs. FGI will be exploring the disparate and sometimes contradictory reactions by federal agencies. The areas of inquiry will include the following:

  • Actions to slow gas price hikes using emergency powers;
  • Calls for investigating the meat and energy industries;
  • Efforts to hinder domestic fossil fuel production, halt pipeline approvals, and shut down American mines; and
  • Considerations behind the decision to re-nominate a Federal Reserve Chairman who has presided over 40-year highs in inflation.

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

“For years Washington’s dysfunction has enraged the American public. The Functional Government Initiative exists to explore what is driving that dysfunction and shine a light on the key decisions causing it. Right now, inflation is front and center in this discussion.  The public almost certainly understands that the pandemic has played a part in driving inflation but if it turns out government policies are supercharging that spike in their cost of living, then they deserve to know. A strong economy and a healthy America are goals all Americans share. As we get records back on these key decisions impacting inflation, we will soon find out whether actions of the federal government are aiding or impeding those goals.”