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. vp

    Sorry, but Drill Baby Drill is all Republican.

    go ahead, try to avoid accountability for your actions.

    Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were the oilmen and the blojobs and cocaine happened on their watch.

    own it or STFU

    June 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • GTC

      You are so right. I remember when they said "let it explode and ruin our waters" Remember that time that Ken Salazar was in office and that thing happened 20 months later? Thank goodness we can fall back on "drill baby drill". Phew, now we know who to blame. What a relief. By the way, I think Ken Salazar is doing an outstanding job. We should thank him for all the department cleanup he's already done. That Bush administration was just so awful. I'm glad we can blame all of this on those two idiots.

      June 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tony Kassebaum

    Well does this surprise you?? We have the best politicians that money can buy. Funny thing haven't heard a word out of former President Bush or Vice President Cheny about the oil spill, have we? I really think it is time to clean house in both the Senate and Congress, as well as every governmental office. Obama inherited two wars, the economy on the verge of collapse, as well as all the career bureaucrats in every branch of government that who are not elected. More than likely, the people in the MMS, were Bush/Cheny buddies, all from the oil industry The real sad thing is the basis of all marine life in the gulf from the phino plankton up through the entire marine food chain will be impacted for years to come, as a result of the oil, and the dispersant. The livelyhoods of tens thousands of people along the entire gulf coast will be impacted forever....from the fisherman, to literally everyone.

    June 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. B Schmitt

    So, Mr Maxwell is suing the agency for $60million. Wow, that's a lot of money to give to a whisteblower. And guess where that money is going to come from, you & me the taxpayer.

    June 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      So will the clean up money. Do you actually have a point or are you just full of Schmitt?

      June 7, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      Money well spent, because there is where our evidence is. He is the steward who has risked "his livlihood" for progress in this country. His crystal ball WAS working when BP was already smashed. Cool guy Schmitt, only thing matters to you is money.

      June 7, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GTC

    For anyone here who has blamed Bush or compared President Obama to Bush, are you seriosly comparing the two? Okay, President Bush was not the best President we've ever had. We get it, it is no secret. Even Bush supporters know that. So, let's compare our President to some GREAT Presidents. Oh, and when Bill Maher asked his guest what he thinks Bush would have done here – why did he not ask about Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Lincoln? If you want Obama to look like a great President keep comparing him to Bush. If you want the truth, start stating facts of the current administration. Salazar was in charge. Not Bush and not Cheney, but Salazar. It's like blaming the previous owner of my car for the accident I just caused. Please stop the nonsense and let's all start holding those in charge accountable. If they didn't want to take responsibility for what happens the SAME DAY THEY TAKE OFFICE, they should have run – Period!

    June 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Oil_4_Sell_Cheap

    If you always do what you've always done, you're going to always get what you've always got.>>>>>>>>when you know better...you do better!!!!!!!! Now we know better and we will do better. IN THE MEANTIME WE'RE BEING BESIEGED BY TOXIC OIL KILLING EVERYTHING IN SITE. GUESS WHAT, IF THERE'S NO MEANS OF MAKING A LIVING HERE IN THE GULF, WE WILL BE COMING FOR YOUR JOBS UP NORTH.

    June 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tony

    Just do the math- Largest campaign contribution from oil industry in history= largest oil spill in history. That isn't democrat or republican diatribe, just real numbers.

    June 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Summers

    I didn't see one useful comment above. Instead of blaming somebody, how about if we lobby to get the oil-skimming tankers in here. It's ridiculous to refuse foreign help, especially for a foreign disaster. For some reason, all the news commentators have beem mum on the subject. Wake them up! We need skimmers NOW.

    June 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      This story is about corruption which is what allowed this event to happen and we are also concerned about solving the real problem, not just the immediate one. You can go to a different story on that topic.

      June 7, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Oil_4_Sell_Cheap

    LET'S ALL TAKE A MOMENT AND FEEL SORRY FOR OBAMA!!!!! MY HEART BLEEDS!!!!!!!

    June 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Don’t worry about Obama. He will be here for years. It is the gulf businesses in Louisiana that will not make it past the next two and a half years.

      June 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      True, cleaning up after Bush is like being a janitor for the chimp cage in a zoo.

      June 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EJ3

    As was said in Casablanca, thiis news is shocking. Once more we hear our government is a corporcracy of government under rulers who see only the bottom line.

    June 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcaros

      It started under the rule of the greatest liar of all -GW Bush.

      June 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kowa

    Just another failure of our government to do their jobs and protect us. They should all be fired!

    June 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Starting with every K-Street stoolie that Bush placed to allow Bull Schmitt like this.

      June 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    Let us observe a moment of silence for the mourning of all the failing southern businessmen that voted for Bush and allowed K-Street stoolies to take over the MMS and issue high risk permits.

    June 7, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    Bush's MMS stoolies issued the permits and that is where the buck was when the disaster struck. Of course the Buck stops at Obama and you can forget offshore drilling and any help for oil companies. If they think they will charge more we will respond by using less. I have faith that the USA will do the correct thing after we have exhausted all the other options.

    June 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. some 1 who knows

    This is no worse than what is presently going on between the FAA and the airlines. Trust me!

    June 7, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      I don't know, when a plane fails, there is plenty of evidence. When a blood transfusion is defective, they just say the patient was really sick, we don't know why he took a turn for the worse.

      June 7, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    Let's make a quick point about this rig that blew up. The permit was approved AFTER Obama took office, MONTHS after! Bush had nothing to do with this... but you liberals keep blaming the other guy...

    June 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      but the decision to not require 'remote-control shut-off switches' was a 2006 Bush era deal... but it did save BP 1/2 million dollars

      June 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      or 2003... it can be difficult to sift thru Bush era environmental law nullification and pinpoint the nods & winks behind Cheney closed door policy sessions.

      June 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tcaros

    sounds like Texas style business – a bunch of lies and payoffs by a bunch of liars.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
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