Hit up the Department of the Interior:
WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal — including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.
Best lede ever?
In a report to Congress Wednesday, DoI’s Inspector General cited a “culture of ethical failure” dominated by “conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere.” The Inspector General named names as high as Lucy Dennett, the former Associate Director of minerals revenue management. Minerals revenue handles oil and gas royalties amounting to over $4 billion every year. (Ms. Dennett retired earlier this year.)
Specific allegations include violation of procurement rules by directing contracts to friends and a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity.” On the regular corruption side, department officials accepted golf and ski outings, meals, and tickets to sports events and concerts from energy companies; on the awesome! side, several officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” As Senator Bill Nelson put it, “the government employees who oversee offshore oil drilling are literally and figuratively in bed with Big Oil.”
There’s pages more of this in the original New York Times article. Nice to see Charlie Savage getting some rock star headlines in the Times. He’s one of a small handful of real journalists left these days, best known for his Pulitzer-winning work on signing statements at the Boston Globe back in 2006. (He also, I am not even joking, covered the Dark Side of the Rainbow story as a young journalist in Fort Wayne.)
While we’re on the subject of real journalists, also consider Ken Silverstein’s outstanding Washington Babylon. Silverstein can be purity-troll-ish on domestic politics, but his investigative work is unparalleled and pisses off the right people. Washington Babylon is a must-read.
And while we’re on the subject of cocaine, well…