Before we all blindly follow John McCain into allowing Big Oil access to even more of our public patrimony, we might observe the cautionary tale of the Minerals Management Service, the people who are supposed to make sure the taxpayers get paid by the oil companies.
In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes. “A culture of ethical failure” pervades the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo. The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.
It appears that regular cocaine and sex parties on trips paid for by oil industry lobbyists were part of the “ethical failures. Oil companies love to drill on leased government land, because they often can skip paying royalties.
During the mid-nineties, whistleblowers and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a government watchdog group, filed suit against sixteen oil companies for failing to pay their required royalties. POGO’s suit was filed under the False Claims Act (FCA), which provides citizens the power to sue on behalf of the federal government for fraud.