Well, not exactly. But something's rotten in the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS), and if you bury your nose in it, you can detect at least a whiff of a sex scandal.
We've kept an eye on the debacles at MMS, which sells off the country's oil and gas resources to energy companies like Shell Oil and ExxonMobil. With revenues around the tune of some $60 billion annually, it generates the nation's largest source of income, behind taxes.
In recent months, reports have exposed fraudulent contracts, lax audits, and loopholes big enough to drive a tanker ship through, which are collectively thought to cost the United States billions annually.
At last count there are six active inquiries into the program being conducted by the Justice Department, the FBI, the Interior Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, or some combination of the four. Two other investigations have already been completed which have blasted the operation for losing the government billions in dollars and being about as dysfunctional as one can imagine.
We watched all this from a distance, not sure what it all added up to. But then, buried in the 16th paragraph of a Dec. 30 New York Times article, was this:
One person familiar with the [Justice Department] investigation [into MMS] said it originally had focused on potentially improper social ties between some of Mr. Smith's subordinates and executives at companies vying for contracts.
And we thought to ourselves, we gotta get in on this.
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