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Udall Demands Accountability for Interior Department Abuses

Press Release

Location: Washington D.C.

U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, sent a letter today to United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey calling for additional investigation of misconduct in the Interior Department and demanding answers as to why the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to initiate prosecution against employees in the Minerals Management Service (MMS) despite recommendations from the Department of Interior (DOI) Inspector General Earl E. Devaney. According to the report released yesterday by the DOI, employees engaged in illicit drug use and sexual encounters with gas and oil companies' representatives, to whom they were supposed to be fairly and impartially awarding drilling contracts.

"This report reveals an appalling lack of ethical standards by the federal employees responsible for leasing oil and gas from our federal lands," said Udall. "Apart from employees engaging in what is clearly unethical - if not illegal - behavior, the report raises some disturbing questions as to the potential loss of oil and gas royalties for Colorado. These individuals seriously violated public trust and abused taxpayer money - and their supervisors in the Bush Administration were somehow none the wiser. The fact that the Attorney General has not brought these individuals to justice is baffling, but the actions of these MMS employees need to be fully investigated and the individuals responsible must be held accountable."

Udall also sent letters to Chairman Nick Rahall of the House Natural Resources Committee and Chairman Henry Waxman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, praising their decision to hold hearings on this situation next week and also asking that they initiate Committee investigations into these unacceptable ethics breaches.

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