Did Bush's Interior Secretary Talk to Shell About Getting A Job There While Still In Office?

Gale Norton

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant conflict of interest than being a regulator and, while in office, talking to a company you regulate about going to work there after you leave.

LA Times: A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records from Royal Dutch Shell PLC as part of a Justice Department investigation into corruption allegations against former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, according to sources close to the investigation.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Norton was discussing future employment with Shell before she stepped down as Interior secretary in March 2006, when she was in charge of a process that resulted in Shell winning three lucrative leases to research and develop oil shale projects on federal land in Colorado.

Nine months after resigning, Norton accepted a job in a Shell division that includes its oil shale efforts.

If true, and if there’s an email trail at all, this was an amazingly stupid move on Norton’s part. This is doubly so, because a Secretary of the Interior doesn’t need to talk to companies about future employment while in office. She could have assumed, with no conversations whatsoever, that after resigning, she’d have her pick of employment opportunities across the industry.

The revolving door between government and the private sector has become a huge issue in finance, though it’s obviously not confined to that industry.

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