Ethics violations alleged at agency that collects oil and gas royalties
Between 2002 and 2006, a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” existed at the federal agency responsible for overseeing oil and gas royalties, according to an investigation by Minerals Management Service Inspector General Earl Devaney. Thirteen MMS employees (in an office of 55 people) are alleged to have rigged contracts, worked part-time as oil consultants, and accepted high-priced gifts from energy companies. Several “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives,” wrote Devaney. The report also singles out Chevron for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. The MMS has come under fire in the past few years for oversight failures; notes Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.), “Clearly, the employees had other priorities in that office.” The ethics allegations are ill-timed as Congress primes to consider offshore-drilling expansion, which would also expand MMS influence.