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Opinion
Editorial: Kempthorne botched role at Interior


"The former Idaho governor and U.S. senator and his predecessor, Gale Norton, presided over the most corrupt period in the agency since Albert Fall and the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s.

"Short of a crime, anything goes at the Department of the Interior," said the agency's inspector general, Earl Devaney.

Devaney has been a busy man during Kempthorne's 33-month tenure as secretary of the interior, which ends when Barack Obama is sworn in as president on Jan. 20.

This month Devany reported to Congress that on 15 separate occasions the department's political appointees had weakened protections for endangered species against the advice of the agency's scientists, whose work they either ignored or distorted.

Julie MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, resigned last year after an earlier report found she had run roughshod over agency scientists and violated federal rules by giving internal documents to industry lobbyists.

In September, Devaney delivered three reports to Congress detailing widespread corruption in the Minerals Management Service, the division responsible for granting offshore oil leases and collecting royalties. According to Devaney, officials accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drugs and sex with oil company employees."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Kempthorne failed at interior department (The Twin Falls Times-News 12/23)