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.”