The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration said on Friday the Justice Department closed an ethics investigation of former Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Norton accepted a job a job with Shell several months after leaving her government post as Interior Secretary. The current inspector general of the Interior department, Mary Kendall said that the federal agency "appeared to give preferential treatment" to Royal Dutch Shell when the company pursued drilling leases in 2005 and 2006.
The Wall Street Journal reports that investigators found no evidence that Shell broke the law or that former Secretary Gale Norton broke federal conflict-of-interest laws.
The Associated Press reports that Norton was of using her position to direct oil leases to Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Kendall said Interior appeared to give Shell preferential treatment in at least two instances, but she could not link either case to Norton.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Shell benefitted from several "irregularities" from their leases. All three of the bids that Shell submitted were rewarded, whereas other companies were advised by employees of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management they could only submit one bid.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Report concluded Norton had "played a significant role" in the oil share program and her "participation in the program should subject her to the lifetime ban on communicating with federal government regarding the program.