These are some of the suggested names for the new Sex-for-Oil Scandal that is rocking the Interior Department.
Well, not exactly. But something’s rotten in the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), and if you bury your nose in it, you can detect at least a whiff of a sex scandal.
At last count there are six active inquiries into the program being conducted by the Justice Department, the FBI, the Interior Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, or some combination of the four. Two other investigations have already been completed which have blasted the operation for losing the government billions in dollars and being about as dysfunctional as one can imagine.
One person familiar with the [Justice Department] investigation [into MMS] said it originally had focused on potentially improper social ties between some of Mr. Smith’s subordinates and executives at companies vying for contracts.
According to the Times, federal investigators suspect several officials of MMS of having “consulting arrangements” with oil companies. That is, they’re taking money from the companies who are supposed to be paying the United States the highest price possible for extracting oil and gas from underneath federal land. Investigators worry that such payments might induce the officials to cut deals with the oil companies that lose the country billions of dollars.
This investigation into possible favors-for-favors (monetary or otherwise) is just part of a much larger scandal that’s emerging from MMS. Through bad contracting, lax auditing and nonexistent — possibly criminal — oversight, a picture is emerging of Interior officials either colluding with big oil companies to defraud the country on a massive scale, or dispatching their responsibilities in an abysmally negligent fashion.