“Talk about awkward timing,” said USA Today in an editorial. Just as Congress is set to approve more offshore drilling, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service office gets embroiled in a cocaine-and-sex-tinged corruption scandal straight “out of a ‘bureaucrats gone wild’ video.” The “MMS chicks” and other employees allegedly partied and slept with employees of the oil firms they were supposed to get royalties from. Talk about “being in bed with regulated companies.”
What do you expect when energy industry lobbyists are tapped to fill the department’s top positions? said The New York Times in an editorial. The Interior Department’s inspector general already found billions in uncollected royalties in 2007. Now it’s clear that the entire MMS program—which collects oil and gas in lieu of cash—“needs a complete overhaul.”
The “criminal abuse” at the Denver-based agency is “mind-blowing,” said the Hartford Courant in an editorial, but unless Congress acts, at least two of the “most egregious abusers” will avoid prosecution. Unbelievably, MMS officials claim the gifts and socializing didn’t affect their “official business.” That “punch line” should be tried out in court.