Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Cobell | Politics
Jodi Rave: Corruption 'nothing new' at Interior


"It's no surprise to Native landowners that a recent watchdog report revealed a culture of corruption within an Interior Department bureau responsible for overseeing lucrative tribal oil revenue accounts.

The in-kind oil royalty program at the Minerals Management Service came under fire as Congress voted on legislation this week to fix ethical lapses unveiled in a three-part investigative report released Sept. 10 by Inspector General Earl Devaney.

“It was nothing new,” said Elouise Cobell, a Browning resident and lead plaintiff in a nationwide class-action lawsuit against the Interior Department. “It's the same old behavior.” She said she hoped U.S. District Judge James Robertson was paying attention to the report, which painted a similar picture as other government reports related to the management of Indian trust funds controlled by several Interior Department bureaus, including the Minerals Management Service.

The Lakewood, Colo.-based minerals bureau is responsible for collecting money and oil as payment from energy companies who drill on federal and Indian trust lands. The inspector general report said almost a third of the royalty-in-kind employees, who handle billions of dollars of transactions, have been playing fast and loose with energy industry officials, engaging in sex, bribes and drug use.

“The systems are broken, and they are broken at MMS,” said Cobell, an Indian trust landowner from the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. She filed suit 12 years ago against the Interior Department, arguing the department has swindled Native landowners from as much as $47 billion."

Get the Story:
Cobell isn't surprised by reports of corruption at Interior (The Missoulian 9/20)

Certification for Appeal:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (September 4, 2008)

Historical Accounting Decision:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (August 7, 2008)

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