The Interior Department scandal breaks just as Congress prepares to debate the hot-button issue of expanded oil drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters.
Three reports from the Department of Interior’s inspector general found wide-ranging ethics violations between the department’s Minerals Management Service and the energy companies from which it is charged with collecting royalties. Allegations of financial improprieties, illegal gifts, and even the occasional sex- and drug-crazed indiscretion created what the author of the reports called “a culture of ethical failure” within the agency. Ouch.
The New York Times:
As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal—including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.
In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.
“A culture of ethical failure” besets the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo.
The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.