Interior investigators pulled from Abramoff probe
Inspector General Earl E. Devaney has pulled his investigators from the Jack Abramoff probe in protest of the Department of Justice's failure to prosecute two former government officials, The Washington Post reports.

Devaney's office has been working on the Abramoff case from its inception. The probe has led to 13 guilty pleas and charges against two former lobbyists.

But two former Interior Department officials escaped punishment despite engaging in unethical practices, Devaney said in three reports last week. Two former employees have pleaded guilty in connection with the scandal but Devaney said that wasn't enough.

"I've been doing this for a long time, and this isn't the first time I've been disappointed by decisions made over there," Devaney told House Natural Resources Committee at a hearing yesterday. "It probably won't be the last."

Devaney testified that he would have likely found more problems -- including losses to taxpayers -- but was hindered by the "terrible shape" of records at the Minerals Management Service. The agency is in charge of collecting royalties on federal and Indian lands.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told the committee he is working to improve ethics at the department.

Get the Story:
Minerals Case Decision Protested (The Washington Post 9/19)
Lawmakers Assail Interior Over Scandal (The Wall Street Journal 9/19)
Oil-office scandal drips on taxpayers (The Denver Post 9/19)
Fed inspector testifies in oil royalty scandal (The New Orleans Times-Picayune 9/19)
Interior Secretary Says He May Fire Gift-Takers (The New York Times 9/19)
Congress panel blasts Interior Department officials on oil royalties scandal (The Los Angeles 9/19)
Interior boss says he will squelch `ethical storm' (AP 9/18)
Justice erred by not prosecuting managers in oil-sex scandal (McClatchy Newspapers 9/18)

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing On “Recent Interior Department Inspector General Investigations On Federal Oil And Gas Royalty Collections.” (September 18, 2008)

OIG Reports:
Gregory W. Smith | MMS Oil Marketing Group - Lakewood | Federal Business Solutions Contracts

Related Stories:
Interior official won't confirm Indian royalty probe (9/18)
House hearing on corruption probe at Interior (9/18)
Congress was warned about corruption at Interior (9/17)
Kempthorne to testify at hearing on DOI scandal (9/16)
House Resources hearing on Interior investigation (9/15)
Inspector General probes Indian royalty collection (9/12)
Editorial: 'Anything goes' at Interior Department (9/12)
Rep. Rahall calls hearing on Interior corruption (9/12)
'A culture of ethical failure' seen at Interior (9/11)
New Inspector General reports on ethical lapses (9/10)
Editorial: Swimmer's slap on the wrist at OST (07/11)
Swimmer reviewing latest reports on OST ethics (07/11)
OST officials slammed in investigation -- again (7/10)
Swimmer admits 'mistakes' by top OST officials (7/31)
Ethics issue behind us, Swimmer tells OST (06/27)
OST one of worst places to work in government (5/1)
OST officials rewarded despite questionable record (1/17)
OST pressed on timetable to complete trust reform (01/09)
Accounting firm defends social relations with OST (07/27)
OST contract tied to favors to top officials (7/25)
OST officials awarded $6.6M contract to friends (7/24)

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