A federal jury has ruled that the Kerr-McGee oil company cheated the United States out of millions in royalty payments for pumping oil from public lands, the New York Times reports
The suit against Kerr-McGee was brought by a former Interior Department auditor who sued on behalf of the U.S. government. The agency blocked his efforts to rectify the misdeed while he was employed there; he was later fired as part of a "reorganization." Even after he filed the suit as a private citizen, the department sided with Kerr-McGee, insisting the case had no merit.
The company was bought by Anadarko Petroleum last year. Kerr-McGee has given over $260,000 to political organizations during the Bush administration, nearly all of it to Republicans; Anadarko has given over $200,000, all to GOP groups, according to opensecrets.org.
The Justice Department, the FBI, the Interior Department's own Inspector General and Congress have launched
a barrage of investigations into how the agency has mismanaged the nation's oil and gas resources in ways that appear to have benefited the energy industry to the tune of several billion dollars.
Thanks to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) for following this closely; visit their blog
for more information.