Gale Norton is being investigated by a federal grand jury for allegedly talking to Shell about a job, while she was Interior Secretary in 2006, reports National Journal. Both Norton and Shell are said to have received subpoenas.
The existence of the federal investigation was first reported last month by the Los Angeles Times. In a nutshell, the Feds have been looking at an episode in which Norton’s Interior Department awarded three oil shale leases on federal land in Colorado — potentially worth hundreds of billions — to a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. Two months later, Norton resigned, saying she had no job lined up. But later that year, she was hired by Shell as in-house counsel.
Federal employees are prohibited by law from discussing employment with a company while that company is involved in dealings with the government that could benefit it. They’re also prohibited from “violating the public trust” by, for instance, giving contracts to friends or associates. The Feds are said to be looking into whether Norton broke either of those laws.
Norton’s interior department also had ties to Jack Abramoff. The department’s number 2, Steven Griles, pleaded guilty in 2007 to lying to investigators who were looking into whether Abramoff used a Norton aide — who Griles was dating — to improperly gain access to Norton and Griles.
Norton did not return National Journal’s request for comment.