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. Let's Get the Hell Out of There!!

    And the beat goes on! We can pile up fact after fact; but until the American people come together and demand an end to
    the Bermuda Triangle of Corruption .. Congress + military + corporations, this country will continue its spiral downward towards Third World status. We MUST fight back!! Don't ask!! TELL your Congressmen that you have had ENOUGH!! YOU
    DO have the power!! Exercise it!!

    June 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      What power do we have if every member of Congress/Senate/White House is playing their political games and is in bed with all of these corporations and lobbying groups. How can we make them change the way they are running OUR government?

      June 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      You stop it by prohibiting former politicians from becoming lobbyists, you stop it by enforcing term limits, you stop it by gutting the campaign finance system and make everyone run using the same public dollars. The biggest problem we have is that our lawmakers spend way more time worrying about how to build up a war chest for the next election than they do trying to fix problems.

      June 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin Mahoney

    They should be able to contain the remaining leaking oil with a huge curtain. Like a big tube of plastic or fabric. It should have a weighted ring on the bottom and and floating ring on the top, 100 feet wide. Then they suck the oil out of the top.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MR

    I say we blame Bush one more time. After all Oblame-a can still get some more mileage out of that excuse at least until the half way point of his 1 term presidency.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |

      my waffle was burnt this morning – I blame Bush
      someone told me the ending to Lost before it aired – I blame Bush

      June 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Yah, Bush couldn't accomplish ANYTHING back then, so why continue to blame him now? Har, true, he's not on the hook for stuff like this anymore, but jiminey, if this was on his watch we'd be hearing about how great this is for true american patriots, our own private gulf of oily destruction, a little middle east in our own back yard...

      June 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      I blame Bush for not having any good cartoons on TV. He reminds me of Buggy Bunny. I think he watches a lot of cartoons. I like Goofy too.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LOLA

    And we want to put our healthcare in the hands of the federal government – the same government who can't find their butts with 2 hands and a flashlight! Witness, DMV, social security and medicare (almost bankrupt, full of corruption and highly inefficient!). Think you like going to the DMV or social security office? Try dealing with that every time you want to go to the doctor. AND now the creme de la creme – Obama and the federal government's oversight, regulation of the oil industry AND their leadership (NOT!) with the oil leak. They aren't doing their job – BP created the problem but it's THEIR job to protect U.S. citizens and our environment and they're not doing ANYTHING!!! Other than talking of course – which we know Obama can do well...at least when he has a teleprompter.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      You believe corruption in government started when Obama became president!!?? What an idiot!!

      June 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      Let me tell ya, roflmao. You do not want health care being run by insurance companies. If only you knew, they are blood sucking bottom dwelling psychopaths who don't know a red blood cell from a pin ball machine. Feds aren't going to "run" health care. They are going to compete with it. Let the games begin. Feds have been in the health care a long time, protecting the quality of drinking water, managing disease outbreaks, providing vaccinations to the underpriviledged and on and on. They manage cost vs benefit. Insurance measures cost vs risk of getting caught red handed.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    So is Washington too bad Obama hasn't done anything other than expand it!

    June 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KRS

    Consider the fact that Bush was the worst US Preident in the past 100 years – yes, the people will be talking about the botched job he did for 8 years – it will take President Obama at least 4 years to try and clean up the royal mess Bush left this country with!

    June 7, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      You sir, are a MOD Squad Member. Mindless Obama Drone.

      June 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe rockbottom

      "it will take President Obama at least 4 years to try and clean up the royal mess Bush left this country with!

      Not likely.. Bush spent 8 years eliminating every regulation he could get his grubby little hands on. On top of that there a hundreds of thousands of incompetent civil servant hired by the bush cronies to infiltrate the government with inept people (many of them probably don' t know that they were hired to do this, they were just seen as incompetent so were hired to full fill the plan!!). It will take decades to clean up the mess left by Bush. Not to mention to clean out the ultra right wing fanatics on the Supreme Court!!

      June 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      The mindless drones were the people scared into complete submission during the 8 years of clownshoes Bush.

      June 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. walleye

    The people at this agency should be terminated IMMEDIATELY and their pensions FORFEITED.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jake

    The Interior Secretary's justifying keeping these people, "They're really great employees, they just do bad things"?

    If these bureaus do nothing, they shouldn't be funded at all, I don't care about their retirement funds or how entertaining they are on the golf course.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Sounds like a word was left out.......perhaps it should have said "culture of total corruption".

    June 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    Bush and K-Street placed individuals that were friendly to oil passing out high risk permits. I DO BLAME BUSH, IT WAS HIS DOING. Salazar started cleaning house because of this corruption before the spill. He just wasn’t fast enough to clean out the level of corruption instilled in 8 years.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mAKOM

    If you truly want to know what is going on; Then you will have to accept these things as the TRUTH. Once you understand the following things; All things will be understood. So I tell you Obama is the Anti-Christ, Satan on Earth, Lawless One, or what ever else you want to call this Demonic Figure. His words describe him, He is a False Hope, If you listen to him you will love him. He carries a Bow without an Arrow. He will conquer all through his speech, his false hoods will capture all who sit and listen to him.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      you need a good cleaning, please the anti-christ. You really must have loved Bush-nut. Kill everything and black it out.

      June 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Please seek mental health care immediately!!!!

      June 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      And I have beach front property for sale in Louisiana, any takers?

      June 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jack Noble

    Here is where the real problem; in my opinon; lays: 1st any large organization become very inefficent. I have worked for Bechtel, Boeing, Intel, Fluor and the likes, along with small contractors, it is just a fact of life. Secondly. If you get those agencies to regulate an industry that they have very little understanding of, they provide confusion and ineffiency greater than you can ever think possible. Lastly, if get those that understand the industry that they are regulating, they tend to appoint themselves, interpreters’ of the regulation. And it is by nature self servicing, because they want more oil drilling so they have jobs in the future.

    If Joe Q. Public will understand, insteading throwing stones, then more might get done to service the public's interest.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe rockbottom

      On top of that, vote in republican administrations who's very platform demands that they appoint and hire totally incompetent people to run the agencies and you get disaster like this (and katrina, and the coal mine disasters, etc). NEVER VOTE FOR REPBULICANS IF YOU WANT TO HAVE GOOD GOVERNMENT. REPUBLICANS WANT TO DESTROY GOVERNMENT, NOT MAKE IT WORK. WHY DON'T YOU LISTEN TO THEM WHEN THEY THREATEN TO DESTROY GOVERNMENT?!?!?!?!?

      June 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      Thank you for posting this. It is relevant. The regulations can be volumes and volumes of things that don't matter. And then a critical key point isn't considered. It's like a 5 year old explaining how an engine works and stipulating that the key must come from Home Depot or the car won't work. But, if these regulations accept as a required part of the formulation, the input from the basic level workers, then you will get meaningful regulations. See, the managers don't want regs. So they will fillibuster any meetings with moronic drivel. Managers are often ineffective and a cause of blockage of info. However, I have watched the congressional hearings and was impressed by the piercing investigative resource of these minds. We do need sharp regulations, not fake ones (FDA biologics). The revolving door has to stop between regulators and industry.

      June 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Millie Bea

    No one- and I mean, no one should be surprised by this. This is a nation of re-actors, not pro-actors. Until there is a problem, we don't want to know- but as soon as there is, holy cow, bar the door for the outrage. You say, "Our government is supposed to take care of this for us." You are the government. So instead of running around in your little tea parties, saying, I don't want nationalized health insurance, but don't touch my Medicare." Get to know the workings of your government- learn what committees your Senators and Representatives serve on, find out what legislation is pending and what it means to you and your pocketbook. Youcan do this all on-line- or call your officials offices and ask. And don't settle for prescripted answers. When I sent messages to all three of my federal representatives about a subject, I received back three almost identical responses that contained not one real answer to my questions between them. The next time I sent a message I told them, that a soggy response to my inquiry would result in my taking my vote to someone who would answer a simple set of questions. Only one of the three answered appropriately with real facts and content. So guess who I am voting for next time?

    June 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. joe rockbottom

    What do you expect from the best government that corporations can buy?

    June 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ash

      Actually, I firmly believe we have the very worst government that the greedy and corrupt corporations can buy. They want it that way for their own benefit. It was foretold 40 years ago, I remember, that America would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporations. So, we are there and we are no longer a republic or a democracy but we have given away our country and it is now a plutocracy. Thanks to the corporations, their greedy lobbyists, the legislators who have sold us out for the cost of their campaign funding. Need to put a cap on campaign spending, and criminalize lobbying.

      June 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ash

    G D Beckett – "Our regulatory bodies are supposed to be the watch-dogs for the people of this country. This story is quite disturbing ...."
    Are you kidding? Our 'regulatory bodies' have been the laziest and most corrupt agencies for many, many decades! Guess you haven't been keeping up with the exposure of corruption with the FDA, FCC, FTC, SEC, all of them. Maybe you don't get out much 🙂

    June 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe rockbottom

      "Our 'regulatory bodies' have been the laziest and most corrupt agencies for many, many decades! Guess you haven't been keeping up with the exposure of corruption with the FDA, FCC, FTC, SEC, all of them."

      This is primarily due to the Republican tactic of appointing and hiring known incompetents to government. They do this as a matter of policy in order to destroy the government from within (read Grover Norquist for the full strategy, inspired by Stallin. Really!!). Republicans have told us over, and over, and over for 40 years that their goal is to destroy the government. Why don't you believe them??!?!?! NEVER VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS IF YOU WANT A GOOD GOVERNMENT.

      June 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
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