Dept. of Interior Oil Scandal


Yesterday, the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior released multiple reports revealing widespread corruption in the Mineral Management Services agency, which handles mineral extraction, leases, and royalties for the Department of the Interior. The allegations show employees receiving illegal gifts, graft, filing false statements on ethics forms, using illegal drugs, and having sex with both subordinates in the agency and with agents of oil and gas companies with business before the agency.

Here are some of the allegations:

Lucy Denett, former associate director of minerals revenue management: accused of steering a contract to one of her aides after he retired.

Gregory Smith, former director of the royalty-in-kind program: accused of doing outside consulting work that included using his position to help the company paying him gain access to clients doing work with the royalty-in-kind program; billing Mineral Management Services for trips made in conjunction with his outside consulting work; accepting over $1,000 in gifts from oil and gas companies; using cocaine with a subordinate; having sex with two subordinates, where one episode is clearly a sexual assault.

Eight other employees: Socialized with and received gifts from companies with business before the royalty-in-kind program. Two of these employees are also alleged to have used drugs and had sexual relations with various agents of oil and gas companies with business before the program.

Here’s CNN reporting on the report:

The IG reports are available at ProPublica where Paul Kiel is providing running coverage.

Since 2001, when President Bush took office, the Department of the Interior was beset by problems arising from the appointment of officials who previously worked in or with the industries that the Department is intended to oversee.

Both the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, and the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Steven J. Griles, came from the extraction industries. Norton worked for a law firm that lobbied for a variety of companies, including oil, gas, and metal companies. Griles previously worked for a natural resources company and later provided public relations advice to a variety of extraction companies doing business with the government. Both Norton and Griles wound up caught in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Norton resigned her post as the scandal encroached into the Department of the Interior, while Griles wound up pleading guilty.

Ethical standards trickle from the top on down. Some of the officials involved in this current scandal expressed the opinion that they “didn’t think ethics rules applied to them because of their ‘unique’ role in the agency and that they needed to socialize with industry representatives for ‘market intelligence.'” The Mineral Management Services scandal has been brewing for a long time and highlights a lack of oversight that occurs when a Department is staffed with individuals who are used to making money from the business they are charged with regulating.

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  • Sky S

    i’ve found a well of information proving that Jack Abramoff isn’t the big bad wolf we were all told to believe.
    political author and journalist Gary Chafetz has a series of youtube videos up right now that explain in depth the true nature of the Abramoff scandal and the files John McCain hid.

    you can find the videos by doing a youtube search for ‘gary abramoff’
    or clicking here

  • Mike

    Yes Folks! Just like the Banking industry now. How is it WaMu gets away with the crap they pull on folks who bank with them, or our new S&L crisis, the morgage mess we are left with.

    First they eat the cake, then, they eat the crumbs, then, when they are done stealing everything they can, then they turn to their pals in the goverment branch that are suppose to regulate them and say (“Please, you don’t expect me to pay for this do you?)

    Then that not being enough,the cake, then the crumbs, now the Tax payer who has been given this blessed oppertunity of being ripped off, will get the added benifit of paying the crooks for their deeds in overdraft fees and Taxes to clean up something that should have been clean to begin with.

    Now it sound as if I’m somewhat upset,and that as it may be, I’m one to also add an Idea about how to fix it all, and yes folks I do have a idea to fix all of it.

    Make it law if you worked in an industry that has any legeslation or laws before any regulatory body, that you someday could be nominated to inforce, then you would not be able to serve in that capacity.Simple yes?

    I hope some of you are asking Why? After all folks on the other side of this issue could claim / argue, you need someone in my example, the Banking industry,or in other words, “someone from the industry” in question, to know the complex ways that the Banks go to nowadays to steal money right out of your pocket book or your so called Free Checking account. Well now, I must admit it sounds well….Sound… excepte for one small problem…

    The problem for folks who come from an industry job then transfer to a regulartory or to a goverment job that oversees their former employer is these folks will only serve 6 years and then what? Go back to the industry they slamed their foot down on? Or Rase wholly hell with the very folks who gave them their start to begin with? Or do they go back to the industry that made it all possible for them saying “you see, I told you it would work, now we can do whatever we want!”. I suppose that would be a tough thing to deal with, loyalty or ethics? Which one matters more? I suppose one could argue one pays the other just makes you feel good.

    Now at last…One more idea just for fun! This one is so simple too. I suppose it’s more of a question…

    Take all the money out of politics and what are you left with? The only thing left.. will be people who truly want to serve!

    It’s so obvious, the solution, and yet it’s like when my lady says to me when I’m not paying attention, “Look at me Mike” she yells finally. Then she says in a very motherly type of voice… as she holds up her key ring…Look Mikey she says… Look… Shiny…. Shiny…

    Santa Maria, Ca.

  • Dan-in-PA

    Damn, are they hiring? Sounds like an AWESOME place to work!