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Continued Oversight of the Interior Department Scandal

Posted on by Karina

Yesterday, the House passed the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act which takes aggressive steps to crack down on the extreme misconduct at the Mineral Management Service — the agency charged with collecting royalties from oil and gas companies. Royalties are one of the largest sources of revenue for the federal government after taxes. The Interior Department's Inspector General just reported on a range of illegal and unethical behaviors plaguing the MMS, including accepting gifts, meals, and drinks from industry representatives; instances of illegal drug use among employees; sexual relationships between MMS employees and representatives of oil and gas companies; and violations of federal procurement regulations, which clearly put taxpayer dollars at risk, such as steering lucrative contracts to former employees in the private sector.

Tomorrow, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a full Committee oversight hearing on “Recent Interior Department Inspector General Investigations on Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Collections.” You can watch the live web cast starting at 10:00 a.m. at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/.

Today, Oversight Committee Chairman Waxman wrote to the Department of the Interior Inspector General to request further information about the oil companies' improper gifts to Mineral Management Service officials in Denver:

Dear Mr. Devaney:

On September 10, 2008, you released three investigative reports regarding the Minerals Management Service (MMS). I am writing on behalf of the Oversight Committee to seek further information about the role of the oil companies in the abuses you documented.

I have consulted with the Natural Resources Committee prior to making this request so that our oversight efforts continue to be coordinated and avoid duplication. The Natural Resources Committee will continue to take the lead in the House on oversight of MMS and, in fact, is holding a sixth hearing on this subject tomorrow at which you will testify. The Oversight Committee will focus on the role of Chevron, Shell, Hess, and Gary Williams Energy Corporation in giving improper gifts to one-third of MMS officials in the Denver office.

To assist the Oversight Committee in its investigation, I request that you provide complete, unredacted copies of all documents obtained pursuant to subpoenas issued by the Inspector General to the oil companies. Also, please produce all transcripts of investigative interviews relating to these gifts. Please provide these documents and transcripts by Monday, September 22, 2008.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. Enclosed with this letter are instructions on how to respond to the Committee's document request.

If you have any questions concerning this request, please have your staff contact Jeff Baran of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5051.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman
Chairman

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