News media report that former Interior Secretary Gale Norton will become general counsel of a division of Shell oil company. Shell, one of the largest producers of petroleum products on federal lands, recently signed a deal with the Interior Department which forces it to pay up for some of the gas royalties it had mistakenly not been charged. Shell and other oil companies have unfairly pocketed between $900 million and $2 billion so far because of the incompetent failure of the Department to pursue royalties owed the taxpayer. Norton resigned in March 2006 following revelations concerning her role in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Norton angered the Department of Interior Inspector General after failing to address ethics charges against former deputy interior secretary Steven Griles' who allegedly provided favors to Jack Abramoff's clients while negotiating a job with his lobbying firm.
-- Beth Daley