Interior Department: Party Over Here!

September 11, 2008

The interior department sounds like an exciting and lucrative place to work. But while there’s clearly a lot of upside for the employees, the taxpayer doesn’t come out on top:

Two other reports focus on “a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” in the service’s royalty-in-kind program. That part of the agency collects about $4 billion a year in oil and gas rather than cash royalties.

Based in suburban Denver and modeled to operate like a private sector energy company, the decade-old royalty-in-kind program sells oil and gas on the open market. Its employees are subject to government ethics rules, such as restrictions on taking gifts from people and companies with whom they conduct official business.

One of the reports says that the officials viewed themselves as exempt from those limits, indulging themselves in the expense-account-fueled world of oil and gas executives.

The report says that eight officials in the royalty program accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski and paintball outings; meals and drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game and a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

That is about as straightforward as corruption gets. Puns about these guys being “in bed with the oil companies” are no doubt tearing through the tubes at a horrifying rate. And there is something very sinister about anyone attending a Toby Keith concert.

But note that the investigators – and the New York Times – seem to think that a significant part of this scandal is the fact that federal employees were doing drugs and sleeping around. The article refers to a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” at the department – the implication being that this is about as bad as the actual corruption already described – long before they bother to mention that some of that promiscuity was with oil company representatives. Then there’s that last sentence:

The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

How could someone in charge of investigating corruption possibly conjoin those three offenses in one sentence? Are drinking on the job, smoking pot, and snorting coke even sins worth mentioning in the context of people who are having sex with the oil and gas people who are giving them illegal gifts and perks to get preferential treatment? Really?

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One Response to “Interior Department: Party Over Here!”

  1. Josh Maxwell Says:

    I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.


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