I bring you a few stories of government malfeasance that should bolster a drive for ousting a bunch of the stinkin’ scumbags who are running our country these day. We have a great opportunity this November and we should take it. And don’t be fooled by party affiliations since the scumbags are running rampant in both parties.
First up is this story (thanks to Lex Alexander over at the Greensboro N&R and his personal blog, Blog on the Run for this one) about four auditors at the Interior Department who are suing oil and gas companies under the Fair Claims Act after they were told by superiors not to pursue oil and gas companies for royalties that the government was owed. From the article:
In two of the lawsuits, two senior auditors with the Minerals
Management Service in Oklahoma City said they were ordered to drop
their claim that Shell Oil had fraudulently shortchanged taxpayers out
of $18 million.
A third auditor, also in Oklahoma City, charged
that senior officials in Denver ordered him to drop his demand that two
dozen companies pay $1 million in back interest.
And in a suit
that was filed in 2004, Mr. Maxwell charged that senior officials in
Washington ordered him not to press claims that the Kerr-McGee
Corporation had cheated the government out of $12 million in royalties.
On Wednesday, Interior officials denied that the agency had suppressed
any valid claims and implied that the auditors simply wanted a share of
any money recovered through their lawsuits.
“If these auditors
believed there were fraud and or false claims on the part of the
companies they were auditing, they should have followed the proper
procedures,” the Interior Department said in a written statement.
“Instead, they opted to pursue private lawsuits under which, if they
prevail, they could receive up to 30 percent of the monies recovered
from the companies.”
In defying their own agency, the Interior
Department’s auditors sued the oil companies under a federal law,
called the False Claims Act, that was created to allow individuals to
expose fraud against the government. People who successfully recover
money for the government in such cases are entitled to a portion. A
losing company is required to pay triple the amount of recovered money
as well as back interest — potentially more than $120 million in the
cases brought by the auditors…
In their suits, the auditors contend that they had no choice but to
go outside the agency because their supervisors ordered them to “cease
work” on five separate investigations and drop their claims.
Documents recently unsealed in Mr. Maxwell’s case against Kerr-McGee,
which is scheduled for trial in November, show that federal officials
abandoned his claims at almost the same moment that state auditors in
Louisiana reached the same conclusions as Mr. Maxwell.
federal regulations, companies are supposed to pay the federal
government a royalty of 12 percent or 16 percent on oil and gas they
extract from federal lands or coastal waters.
Mr. Maxwell’s job was eliminated in 2004. He received a settlement from the government and is now living in Hawaii.
I love the Interior Department’s defense: they say that the auditors are in it for the money, yet the auditors wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if they hadn’t been given orders to not pursue the companies in the first place. Why would they even bring the lawsuit if there was a chance that they could be caught out in such an obvious ploy? It will all come out in court and I’m pretty confident that even if the auditors don’t win (who knows what kind of technicalities might pop up) we’ll see substantial evidence that supports their claims that they were told by superiors to stand down.
Next up is the story of two of our more nefarious Senators trying to suppress an effort to bring a little more sunlight onto the Senates pork-barrel spending operations. Sen. Byrd of West Virginia and Sen. Stevens of Alaska both sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee and both put a secret hold on legislation that would (will?) create a database of pork barrel spending. From the piece:
It’s all about a bill by Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican,
who wanted to put more details about federal spending in the hands of
Americans. Coburn, with co-sponsorship from Democrat Sen. Barrack Obama
of Illinois, wants the federal government to establish a searchable
database that would allow Americans to track all federal grants and
That, Coburn and Obama figured, would make it more
likely that obscure pork-barrel expenditures, buried deep in omnibus
appropriations bills, could be rooted out by a concerned public and
examined on their individual merits. Senate majority leaders Bill
Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., gave the measure their
In the tradition of the Senate, however,
somebody exercised his privilege to put a hold on the bill and keep it
from going to the floor. Who it was wasn’t explained because, again in
the tradition of the Senate, he kept his name secret. In all, not a
strong endorsement for openness and accountability.
the bloggers went to work, beginning with Porkbusters.org, which
deputized the nation to begin interrogating all 100 senators. The
appeal went out for citizens to aask their own senators, flat out, if
they were or weren’t behind the mysterious hold. As the replies came
back, Porkbusters.org kept an online scorecard, tabulating who had and
who had not denied responsibility for the hold.
It took only a
few days for the culprit–two of them, actually–to be revealed. No
surprises to learn that Republican Sen. Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens
of alaska and West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, the record holder for
bacon brought home, were behind the hold.
Byrd and Stevens have
harrumphed unconvincing explanations that they just wanted time to
study the measure. What a coincidence. That’s what citizens want to do
with federal grants and contracts.
Remember what I said about this being bi-partisan scumbaggery? These two are well known for this kind of crap, but really they’re just a representative sample. After all who can forget about the revelations coming from the Abramoff scandal? To wit:
Former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced to five years and 10 months
in prison on March 29, after pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion and
conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to
cooperate in an investigation into his dealings with members of
Congress. Sources familiar with the federal probe have told The Post
that half a dozen lawmakers are under scrutiny, along with Hill aides,
former business associates and government officials.
The scandal prompted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio) to give up their leadership posts, and on Sept. 15, 2006, Ney pleaded guilty to charges
stemming from the scandal. Two of Abramoff’s former business partners
have pleaded guilty. Three men have been arrested in the slaying of Gus Boulis, who sold Abramoff and partners a fleet of Florida casino ships in the fall of 2000. Another former Abramoff associate, David H. Safavian — most recently the top contracting official in the White House Office of Management and Budget — was convicted for lying about his dealings with Abramoff.
Really the Abramoff thing is just getting going, and it will be interesting to see how many more people he brings down.
This post could go on forever if I tried to detail all the nasty goings-on in Congress and the Executive Branch of our government, but I think these samples give us a nice representative sample of what’s going on. The question is will we as citizens do something about it in November?