The Corpus Callosum

Probably everyone has seen it by now, but the NYT has a headline about
the “culture of ethical failure” at the Department of the Interior.
 In a way it is not news; I, among others, href="http://scienceblogs.com/corpuscallosum/2006/08/culture_of_corruption_part_ii.php">wrote
about it two years ago.

Back then, I referred to it as a culture of corruption.  Now,
the
department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, has expanded
that.
 Instead of a culture of corruption, it is now a culture of complete
ethical failure
.  Corruption is only part of it.
 

href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/11/washington/11royalty.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin">
Wide-Ranging Ethics Scandal Emerges at Interior Dept.

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: September 10, 2008

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…

The highest-ranking official criticized in the reports was Lucy Q.
Denett, the former associate director of minerals revenue management,
who retired earlier this year as the inquiry was progressing.

The investigations are the latest installment in a series of scathing
probes of the troubled program’s management and competence in
recent
years. While previous reports have focused on problems the agency has
had in collecting millions of dollars owed to the Treasury, the new set
of reports raises questions about the integrity and behavior of the
agency’s officials.

In one of the new reports, investigators conclude that a key supervisor
at the agency’s minerals revenue management office worked
together with
two aides to steer a lucrative consulting contract to one of the aides
after he retired, violating competitive procurement rules…

As I pointed out two years ago, the problems actually started during
the Clinton administration, so I do not view this as a partisan issue.
 Rather, it reflects on the toxic influence of big-money
corporations on the operation of our government.  

The only difference is one of degree.  The Republicans are
more
beholden to oil/coal/gas/defense companies.  Democrats are
more
beholden to banks/investment/credit card companies.  But both
parties are susceptible to both groups.  

In other news, href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/11/world/middleeast/11iraq.html?partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all">Iraq
has canceled six no-bid oil contracts with western oil
companies.  This is a bit startling when you think about it.
 The government of Iraq is more ethically sound than our own…