Of the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said it best on Tuesday: “In the Bush administration, these were the guys that were having sex orgies and pot parties and weren’t showing up for work.”
As the government agency that regulates offshore drilling, MMS is already under scrutiny for its handling of the rig that exploded and caused the oil spill. It’s not yet clear whether there were missteps by the agency, though the Washington Post reported earlier this week that MMS’ environmental impact assessments of the Deepwater Horizon rig had not considered the possibility of a major spill.
But longtime TPMmuckraker readers will be familiar with the agency’s past woes. Let’s take a spin through the archives:
Sex-for-Oil Scandal Rocks Interior Department (January 2007):
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.
CQ: Officials Covered Up Oil Lease Problems, IG Says (January 2007):
Uh-oh. The Interior Department’s internal watchdog says top officials at the agency knew about problems costing taxpayers as much as $10 billion in revenue, but tried to hide the problem from the public, according to Congressional Quarterly’s Jeff Tollefson.
One official may even have lied to Congress about when she knew things were screwy with her agency’s energy contracts, which have allowed companies like ExxonMobil and Shell to pay billions less than they should have to extract oil and gas from federal lands …
Interior Disciplines Staffers For Partying With Oil Workers (November 2008):
Looks like having sex with employees of oil companies you’re supposed to be regulating — not to mention doing drugs in the office — isn’t such a great career move after all.
Late Update: Some may remember that sex-for-oil scandal by its other (commenter-generated) name: Lubrigate.