The Department of the Interior, whose branches accept up to 5 billion dollars in oil-connected royalties, has the unique responsibility of upholding a healthy relationship with companies that maintain the U.S. oil reserve. As a caveat, it is imperative that they do not show favor to those same companies. Some of their biggest client relationships include Chevron, Hess and Exxon Mobil.
The breadth of this scandal is tremendous. Oil execs exchanged favors and contracts witth government officials. There were also sexual relationships fostered during the four-year investigation that would be inappropriate in any other circumstance.
From the NYTimes:
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.
Inspector General Earl E. Devaney has released an extensive memo detailing the improprieties of the up to 15 Department of the Interior employees saying that there was “a culture of promiscuity and substance abuse.”
In light of Senator John McCain’s and VP nominee Sarah Palin’s exhortation to drill at all costs, this scandal could potentially change the way that ethics are viewed in government. The Bush administration looked the other way as the government became corrupted by oil barons. To make matters worse, two top-ranking officials (Gregory W. Smith, Lucy Q. Dennet) who were being investigated retired from the Department of the Interior before they could be prosecuted.
The shake-up is another poor reflection on the Bush administration, whose record now includes the Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco scandals. Mortgage crisis news has also dominated the tail-end of the Bush II dynasty, with bailouts of Bear Stearns and a takeover of Freddie Mac-Fannie Mae.
Republican policy has not only tapped the oil possibility for the future but it has made us reliant on shady dealings with self-interested oil conglomerates.