This scandal highlights yet another appalling lack of accountability and arrogance from the Bush Administration.Â An inspector of the US Interior Department reports seriousÂ wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, an agency which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the federal governmentâ€™s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.
From the NY Times story:Â The investigation also concluded that several of the officials â€œfrequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.â€
The investigation separately found that the programâ€™s manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.
The culture of the organization â€œappeared to be devoid of both the ethical standards and internal controls sufficient to protect the integrity of this vital revenue-producing program,â€ one report said.
Florida senator Bill Nelson suggested the Federal Government place on hold new plans to drill offshore until problems with this agency are resolved.
More salicious details from the AP story:
“During the course of our investigation, we learned that some RIK employees frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives,” the report said. Two government employees who had to spend the night after a daytime industry function because they were too intoxicated to drive home were commonly referred to by energy traders as the “MMS Chicks.”
Between 2002 and 2006, 19 oil marketers – nearly a third of the 55-person staff in the Denver office – received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies, including Chevron Corp., Shell, Hess Corp. and Denver-based Gary-Williams Energy Corp., the investigators found. The investigation focuses on nine employees – all but one of whom received ethics training – who attended meals, parties, paintball games and concerts whose value exceeded the $20-per-gift limit or $50-a-year thresholds on outside gifts. In the case of two marketers, gifts were accepted on at least 135 occasions. The report identifies eight of the employees by name and a ninth only by job description.
One worker admitted having a one-night-stand with a Shell employee. That same individual allegedly passed out business cards for her sex toy business, Passion Parties Inc., at work, and bragged that her income from that business exceeded her salary at the Interior Department. The employee was authorized to conduct such outside employment, and denied to investigators that she advertised for it during work hours, the report said. She admitted selling products to several of her subordinates.
Since the McCain/Palin ticket seems so beholden to Big Oil, I’m surprised that neither of them has spoken out about this scandal since it emerged yesterday afternoon.