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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Joseph Romm: Flashback to 2008 Minerals Management Service sex-for-oil scandal

Flashback to 2008 MMS sex-for-oil scandal

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, May 4, 2010
You’re going to be hearing about  the Minerals Management Service in the coming days, since their “mission is to manage the mineral resources of the Outer Continental Shelf in an environmentally sound and safe manner.”

After eight years of Bush-Cheney, they became absurdly cozy with the industry, signed off on Big Oil’s desire for voluntary, “trust me,” self-regulation — and caved in to industry demands not to mandate the backup shut off switch for offshore rigs that Brazil and Norway require.

In fact, “cozy,” turned out to be an extreme understatement for how close the MMS and Big Oil were as I discussed two years ago in a post on their sex-for-oil scandal subtitled, “Please no jokes about Drill, Baby, Drill or Bush Energy Policy!” and excerpted below.

Just when you think the two oil-men in the White House can’t top themselves for corruption metaphors:
Government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties engaged in illicit sex with employees of energy companies they were dealing with and received numerous gifts from them, federal investigators said Wednesday.
The alleged transgressions involve 13 Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their alleged improprieties include rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants, and having sexual relationships with – and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from – oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general [Earl Devaney].
And the winner of the best line ever to appear in an Interior Department Inspector General (IG) report:
“These same … marketers also engaged in brief sexual relations with industry contacts,” Devaney wrote. “Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length.”
Note to self:  Guess, the IG never heard of phone sex.

But wait, there’s more:
The investigations reveal a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” by a small group of individuals “wholly lacking in acceptance of or adherence to government ethical standards,” wrote Inspector General Earl E. Devaney.
The reports describe a fraternity house atmosphere inside the Denver Minerals Management Service office responsible for marketing the oil and gas that energy companies barter to the government instead of making cash royalty payments for drilling on federal lands. The government received $4.3 billion in such Royalty-in-Kind payments last year. The oil is then resold to energy companies or put in the nation’s emergency stockpile.
Between 2002 and 2006, nearly a third of the 55-person staff in the Denver office received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies, the investigators found.
Devaney said the former head of the Denver Royalty-in-Kind office, Gregory W. Smith, used illegal drugs and had sex with subordinates. The report said Smith also steered government contracts to a consulting business that was employing him part-time.
When reached for comment, President Bush said, “Heck of a job, Smithie!”

From Think Progress: “Official increased employee’s ‘performance award’ for providing him with cocaine.

Also from TP: “Oil reps and government employees joked about bubble baths, bringing ‘the meat to the table.’



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