The PJ Tatler

Senators Demand Probe of Potential Cover-Up in Gulf Drilling Moratorium

Three senators have called for an investigation into a potential cover-up of documents that led to the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) today wrote Kevin L. Perkins, chairman of the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, stressing that they believe the Interior Department’s Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall “failed to ensure an independent, impartial and complete investigation into the Administration’s offshore drilling moratorium and related activities.”

Kendall, they noted, was reportedly involved in the so-called 30-Day Report, “which erroneously indicated that independent peer review experts endorsed the Administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.” Then, Kendall conducted an oversight investigation of the report.

“This raises serious questions about the independence and integrity of the Acting Inspector General’s efforts on this matter and her compliance with applicable law,” the senators wrote. “Even more troubling are facts tending to show that the Acting Inspector General stymied a full and complete investigation and an accurate and complete report pertaining to these matters.”

They noted that in documents obtained by the House Natural Resources Committee, Kendall revised the draft OIG investigation report to strike a sentence stating the role of President Obama in requesting the 30-Day Report, and proposed striking entire pages of findings, including those detailing the White House role in revising the report “to give the untrue impression that the Administration’s political decision to impose a six-month drilling moratorium was reviewed by independent peer review experts.”

“We would ask that your committee’s investigation into this matter evaluate each and every edit suggested by Ms. Kendall for potential impropriety and lack of impartiality on her part,” the senators requested, adding that the Interior Department and Office of the Inspector General have refused to comply with House Natural Resources Committee subpoenas for documents surrounding the 30-Day Report.

The senators requested that the Integrity Committee, which meets quarterly, convene within the next 30 days to review the allegations of impropriety.

“The moratorium crushed thousands of jobs – many of which Louisiana is still suffering from – and now we’re seeing extremely alarming evidence that the investigation I requested on the job-killing moratorium may not have been independent and could have involved the acting IG tampering with the facts,” Vitter said. “It’s pretty outrageous and offensive to know that politics seems to be likely influencing the office of the IG in addition to the science.”