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Sex, Drugs, and Minerals Management:

A new Interior Department Inspector General report details serious shenanigans at the Minerals Management Service office responsible for the "royalty-in-kind" program, including the acceptance of gifts from industry, cronyism, and "a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity," including illicit drug use and sexual relations with energy company representatives. (It even sounds worse than the Ohio Attorney General's office under Marc Dann.) . As the Washington Post reports:

Investigators from the Interior Department's inspector general's office said more than a dozen employees, including the former director of the oil royalty program, took meals, ski trips, sports tickets and golf outings from industry representatives. The report alleges that the former director, Gregory W. Smith, also netted more than $30,000 from improper outside work. . . .

n the report released yesterday, investigators said they "discovered a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" in which employees accepted gratuities "with prodigious frequency." The report cited one e-mail from a Shell Pipeline representative asking a woman in the royalty office to attend "tailgating festivities" at a Houston Texans football game: "You're invited . . . have you and the girls meet at my place at 6am for bubble baths and final prep. Just kidding."

Besides Shell, the energy company employees mentioned in the report worked for Chevron, Hess and Gary-Williams Energy. The social outings detailed in the report included alcohol-, cocaine- and marijuana-filled parties where certain employees of the Minerals Management Service were nicknamed the "MMS Chicks" by the energy employees. The companies paid for federal workers to attend football and baseball games, PGA Tour events, Colorado ski trips, paintball outings and "treasure hunts," investigators found.

MMS officials are supposed to maintain "arms length" relationships with energy company officials yet, as the report noted, "Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length."

In response, Interior Department Dirk Kempthorne is promising reform.

Happyshooter:

Am I correctly reading this to say the federal employees were the girls and the energy company employees that were their sex partners were the boys? That is a switch from the usual scandal.
9.12.2008 5:01pm
BGates:
If the problem is too much sex and drugs, I don't think a guy with a "Porn Star or Cabinet Member" name like "Dirk Kempthorne" is the solution. That's two phallic references in three syllables, not to mention how dirty "Interior" sounds in this context.
9.12.2008 5:23pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Outside of wondering how I can get me a job like that, it brings up a point:
The more power government has, the more it pays to try to corrupt it. And since government has the power to put its competitors out of business, it has a lot of power.
9.12.2008 5:45pm
PLR:
A wisenheimer on the Rocky Mountain News message board said, "That's not what we meant when we asked for more drilling!"

I love how people in positions of authority pledge to make reform AFTER the delivery of an official report that was many months in the making. No rush, guys.
9.12.2008 5:48pm
Left Out (mail):
Man, I never get invited to any of the good parties...
9.12.2008 5:56pm
trad and anon:
MMS officials are supposed to maintain "arms length" relationships with energy company officials yet, as the report noted, "Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length."
So handjobs are still OK?
9.12.2008 6:02pm
Houston Lawyer:
And you thought working for the government wouldn't be any fun.
9.12.2008 6:07pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):
Talk about being in bed with big oil...literally.
9.12.2008 6:08pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
Does make it sound like a fun place to work though :-)
9.12.2008 6:20pm
Randy R. (mail):
Richard: "The more power government has, the more it pays to try to corrupt it. And since government has the power to put its competitors out of business, it has a lot of power."

Interesting observation. Now that the federal gov't owns or controls the mortgage market, and may soon with the auto industry, we can expect more of this, I suppose.

I think I'll ready my application to return to gov't.
9.12.2008 6:23pm
Randy R. (mail):
What is especially interesting is the Cheneyesque excuse that the ethics rules didn't apply to them because they decided that they didn't.
9.12.2008 6:24pm
Fub:
Quoted from TFA:
The report alleges that the former director, Gregory W. Smith, also netted more than $30,000 from improper outside work. . . .
I don't know how much the director makes, or what the period was for the income. But a mere $30 grand seems like small potatoes compared to recent federal government bribery scandals. For example, Rep. Jefferson of LA allegedly had close to $100K in small bills in his freezer. Rep. Cunningham took bribes of seven figures.

What's with all the nickel and dime stuff at Interior?
9.12.2008 6:26pm
wm13:
First of all, is there a rule against sexual relations between government employees and contractors? I used to work for the state, and I don't recall any such rule. Only gifts with monetary value were covered, not social relationships.

Second of all, am I the only amused by the conscientious investigative bureaucrat who wants to require that sexual relationships be "arm's length"? Surely there is some more felicitous phrasing that would describe goodsex and differentiate it from the sexcrime at issue here.
9.12.2008 6:43pm
PLR:
First of all, is there a rule against sexual relations between government employees and contractors? I used to work for the state, and I don't recall any such rule. Only gifts with monetary value were covered, not social relationships.

That must have been a long time ago, before the quickie. That reminds me of a joke about the priest who went into town...
9.12.2008 7:16pm
volokh groupie:
Paging Jonathan Adler! Paging Jonathan Adler!

Global Warming Decision
9.12.2008 7:25pm
a knight (mail) (www):
FUB - More anecdotal evidence that in our modern world; two wrongs make a righty. The allegation that Gregory W. Smith coerced fellatio proves something else;: he's no Bill Clinton.

Here's an interesting match of last names:

The highest-ranking official criticized in the reports is Lucy Q. Denett, the former associate director of minerals revenue management, who retired earlier this year as the inquiry was progressing.

Charlie Savage, "Sex, Drug Use and Graft Cited in Interior Department", New York Times, September 11, 2008

From the White House website

PauL A. Denett
Administrator
Office of Federal Procurement Policy


Paul A. Denett most recently served as Counselor to OMB's Deputy Director for Management since June 2006...

Mr. Denett is a retired senior executive from the Federal service, and has served as Director of Administration & Senior Procurement Executive in the Office of the Secretary for the Department of the Interior (DOI), and as Vice Chairman of the Government-wide Procurement Executives Council (PEC), now called the Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC)...

He resides in Vienna, Virginia with his wife, Lucy...

I haven't done any deep-drive searching, but the surname's relatively rare.
9.12.2008 7:56pm
loki13 (mail):
They probably broke the scandal when someone overheard "Drill, baby, drill!" being yelled repeatedly from one of the offices.... and then realized it wasn't a GOP campaign event.
9.12.2008 8:26pm
NickM (mail) (www):

MMS officials are supposed to maintain "arms length" relationships with energy company officials yet, as the report noted, "Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length."


How many pages of the Kama Sutra are devoted to proving the contrary?

Nick
9.12.2008 10:52pm
neurodoc:
What's with all the nickel and dime stuff at Interior?
Perhaps what the MMS side got in the bargain wasn't all that much, but the oil industry has benefited hugely from gross incompetence and corruption in the collection of royalties. And the ones really screwed big time have been the tribes who have not received the $$$ they are entitled to. To call it egregious understates it.
9.13.2008 3:08am
Fub:
neurodoc wrote at 9.13.2008 2:08am:
To call it egregious understates it.
No disagreement on that point. What struck me was the nickel and dime prices that the corrupt employees received.

A Jefferson or a Cunningham I can understand. They made some fairly decent money before they got caught. But with these guys it's as if something far beyond profit motive drove the corruption.
9.13.2008 8:47pm