June 7th, 2010
01:41 PM ET

Ex-oil official: Agency is a 'culture of corruption'

Bobby Maxwell, a former Minerals Management Service auditor who spent 22 years with the Interior Department unit, tells CNN that he witnessed "inspections" on off shore oil rigs that were barely worth the name.

"They would look at some papers, have lunch, shake hands with their friends and say goodbye," Maxwell told CNN's Abbie Boudreau in an interview scheduled to air Wednesday on AC360.

Maxwell told CNN the agency had a "culture of corruption" and the inspections he saw were like a country fair - all play and no real work.

The agency - which oversees U.S. offshore drilling, including the Gulf of Mexico - has come under fire for mismanagement, questionable conduct and cozy relationships with industry officials.

Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar, during an appearance before the House Committee on Natural Resources, said he was trying to change the agency's culture and its structure, which some critics say leads to mismanagement.

"My belief is that most of the employees of the MMS are good public servants," Salazar said. He, however, acknowledged some of the past conduct was "scandalous" and "reprehensible."

Senator pushes to cut 'cozy' ties between oil industry, regulators

Maxwell is still litigating a $60 million whistleblower suit he filed against the agency.

soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Frances

    This guy is a FORMER employee... He was FIRED for a REASON! He is disgruntled, hasn't been working at MMS for YEARS! When he was at MMS, he never reported anything like this.. why did he wait until now? He just was fame & fortune! He did inappropriate things when he worked at MMS too.. like touch other women inappropriately.. oh wait, that is a totally different story now isn't it Bobby! I'm sure he was sent a First Class Ticket to be interviewed by CNN. What a waste of money that was.. why not just interview current employees.. Most people from the old corrupt MMS are no longer even with MMS.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • PSF

      First of all, how do we know he was fired? It's not mentioned in the article, so I assume you're making that up unless you have evidence to the contrary. It's more likely that he quit after talking, hence why he is in the process of sueing the company on the grounds of a whistleblower suit.

      You're making the assumption that this man was also corrupt, simply because he worked there during this time period. Besides, the widespread corruption likely was not around for his ENTIRE 22 year career there. Besides, have you ever been in a situation where you're part of a group or team, and nearly everyone around you is engaging in activity that is immoral or wrong? The pressure to conform, or at least keep quiet, is ENORMOUS, even if not explicitly stated.

      Again, I'm not saying this man was pressured to keep quiet for his whole career, but I imagine it took so time for him to find an opportunity to come forward without fear of retaliation.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frances

      PSF, I know he was fired because of former news articles. He created chaos a few years ago and he worked at MMS, was fired and left disgruntled... I also know because of another reason but will not state here.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Russ

    The Bottom Line is that Blame, at this point, serves no purpose whatsoever. A solution to the oil leaking from teh wellhead is the problem.

    Cudd Pressure controll in Oklahoma put out a bunch of the well fires in Kuwait. They can do this. Or Boots and Coots formerly with Red Adair in Houston.
    SOmebody call them.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. damiao

    We don't have corruption Brazil, no violence and we live in a perfect place....http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com I'm just kidding, corruptions makes violence and poverty around the world.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. damiao

    tell me what's your favorite team in Africa's world cup? http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    June 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 7thseal

    You can dislike a person, each race dislikes it’s own, but when someone goes over the top, even children would know “ Why some people hate?” Number one: STOP ATTACKING THE PRESIDENT ON BP! This is not his fault. He’s done more for this country in a short time than, ANY President in history. Does he need credit? It's not about policies; some people just don't like him You people are FOLLY! He's black and white. Both parents were hard-working intelligent people who biologically created a kid who became President and mom stayed on him. Dad died early rest his soul but he had a mom that made sure, she’d never allowed no one to crush his dreams. Nobody complained about Bush, who's not even in the President's Obama’s intellectual league. Some just can't stand what President Obama has achieved. He doesn't care about credit. He does this because he'll be paid in full. He didn't want to be President. He was chosen by a greater power much greater than himself to change this country and the World in a new direction. I tell you the truth, Any jealous, deceitful, malicious, people who plots in Americans or the President, will themselves on their death bed, will be preparing their souls for Death and Hades on the day that’s called, “The Rapture”. The oil already shows 1/3 of our habitat will start to effecting wildlife and eventual human life. In the book of REVELATIONS; It states,“ A quart of wheat for a day’s wage and three quarts of barley for a days wage, and DO NOT DAMAGE THE OIL!(meaning the spill will destroy the Earth because of the evil greed of man) CONSPIRACY? Skull and bones? Look who’s quiet hummmm…. People are loosing their businesses because of this. Famine and plague will eventually begin. Frequent earthquakes, deadly weather, volcanoes erupting, signs of the “MESSIAH” turning up all over the World and shifting islands moving from their foundations due to Tsunami’s. So Americans and the world; WAKE UP! Government is not our fear. Terrorism is not our fear, Tea parties will collapse. I tell you the truth! BP we will pay a BIG price, NO company will survive the monetary and criminal wrath the President’s administration will put on BP and their supporters. Money is MEANINGLESS! “ Of what use is money in the hands of fools, since he has no desire to get wisdom”.(meaning greedy, evil men want to get richer and richer for their own profit, then when a disaster happens, they have no smarts and knowledge to plug an oil hole which they caused.) I tell you the truth. Follicial
    men will never rest in peace for cresting this mess. Now they will be punished fortheir evil ways. You haven't seen nothing yet. “FEAR NOW! So do as you will you oil folks. It's been foretold. It has come. So shall it be.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nanobot

    They would fire any current employees who said anything bad. He could only have a suit if his termination was a pretext for his whistleblowing. He had to actually blow the whistle to have a case. That' means he did complain when he worked there. It takes years to run the suit just as you said, that is normal. What is your problem? You don't like people who say anything bad about their employers, even if it is true and meant to save lives?

    June 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      That comment is for Frances, who doesn't like whistleblowers. They are too scarey.

      June 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Robert

    This will sound like a broken record but, um... George W Bush.

    June 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Antonios672

    I do not understand why the president is taking so much heat about the oil spill. People must decide whether they want government or not. Obama went against his base to escort Republicans, the drill baby drill party remember? Now I believe It is time for him to push for a clean energy bill. Gindal wants Fed. assistance. Well you can't have it both ways governor. now It's your s-it to clean up.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. Richard

    Now that the White House is pushing to increase BP's liability from $75 million a day, we will see who opposes them.
    Take note so they are removed next time you vote. $75 million will never pay for the damages BP is causing and if the W.H. can't increase the BP liabilty the gulf coast will never recover. All the businesses will go bankrupt trying to recover in court lawsuits. Now is the time for the common voter to get "as mad as hell." If BP thinks paying for advertisements to boost their image the executives of BP really aren't smart enough to run that company. For me and I'm sure for a lot of others we will only get angrier if they spend money on advertisements while trying to avoid paying for the cleanup. They already have no credibility to the population. Handing out dividend cheques to shareholders is another way they are sure to get people angrier and anyone holding shares of BP should get rid of them since they won't be going up for years, if not decades. BP should be made to pay for this with every penny they have. If everyone out there is not angry enough they deserve to live in the middle of this disaster and maybe then they would show some anger.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Richard

    THe big problem is big money and well paid lobby groups that would promote anything as long as they are paid. The worst of these is the oil group. Palin in Alaska went so far as to say there wasn't any global warming and now she is against increasing BP's liabilty for the oil spill. It's obvious she's in bed with oil when she supports such ridiculous ideas. Nobody in the U.S. would have the heart to go against paying for the recovery with every penny that is available. Things must be made right. We live on this land we are destroying. If we can't protect our planet we don't deserve to survive as a human race. Maybe the planet will eventually destroy us. Right back at us, for letting BP get away with it. Every man , woman and child should be saying enough is enough.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Antonios672

      This time I want Obama to go after Cheeney. I want light to the deals and his oil buddies made deregulating the market, by approving a weak agency to oversee their stuff. This is a big opportunity for justice, Holder and the WH must go after everyone responsible for this nightmare. It will relax the people and elevate Obama. If the president does not bring light to everything concerning this disaster, I will never vote again.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. guest6710

    everyone should be a politican in DC get paid big money to wine and dine others for kickbacks ????? what a life

    June 8, 2010 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Craig N. Barthelmas

    Subject: PRO-ACTIVE OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN, Dated: 1814, this is an oil spill contingency plan that has a proven extraction process. If British Petroleum’s hired goons stop authorized U.S. press from filming on American Soil just one more time, History may repeat its self!

    THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS, by Johnny Horton: In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip, we took a little bacon and we took a little beans, we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans

    We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin', there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago we fired once more and they begin to runnin', on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

    We looked down the river and we see'd the British come, there must have been a hundred of'em, beatin' on the drums They stepped so high, and they made their bugles ring, we stood by our cotton bales, and didn't say a thing

    We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin', there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago we fired once more and they begin to runnin', on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

    Old Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise if we didn't fire our muskets 'Till we looked 'em in the eye, we held our fire 'Till we see'd their faces well Then we opened up our squirrel guns And really gave 'em – well we

    Fired our guns and the British kept a-comin', there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago we fired once more and they begin to runnin', on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

    Yeah, they ran through the briars And they ran through the brambles And they ran through the bushes Where the rabbit couldn't go They ran so fast That the hounds couldn't catch 'em On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

    We fired our cannon 'til the barrel melted down So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round We filled his head with cannon balls, and powdered his behind And when we touched the powder off the gator lost his mind

    We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin', there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago we fired once more and they begin to runnin', on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

    Yeah, they ran through the briars And they ran through the brambles And they ran through the bushes Where the rabbit couldn't go They ran so fast That hounds couldn't catch 'em On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Go Johnny!

    We posted a PRO-ACTIVE OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN, Dated: 10 May 2010, this is a post oil spill contingency plan that has a proven Oil Spill extraction process and a patented Hydro-Carbon (emissions free) recycling technology.

    We’ve found a pre-processed material and developed an action plan that will extract up to 98% of oil spill contaminants from the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It also includes contingencies for, re-processing all of the oil drenched materials back into re-usable fuels and commodities creating, long term renewable energy revenues for the community.

    We all know that BP has been feeding us misinformation and then trying to minimize their cost by denying problems exist. Yes! We sent BP and other agencies our plan. Operations of this nature have a price tag associated with them and so, it would appear that they have no wish to spend anything on an oil spill they can’t control or that won’t go back into their pockets. This cannot be allowed to go on any longer! We have four suggestions to remedy this situation.

    a. Executive orders from the president to keep BP within five miles of their oil rig to work on plugging their oil well.
    b. Executive orders from the president keeping BP completely out of the state containment and clean-up process.
    c. Executive orders from the president to keep BP paying for the affected business and state clean-up’s, on time.
    d. Find a way to approve pro-active plans rapidly and, for God’s sake, make decisions without first consulting BP.

    To date, BP has not plugged the well, contained the oil spill or even moved quickly to approve state contingency plans to keep oil off their shores. BP needs to plug their damned hole and pay the states for containment and clean-up operations.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Craig N. Barthelmas ge1re22@aol.com

    June 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
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