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Long-lasting smell attached to the Gale Norton/Shell scandal

By John Donovan

An article published by an Oregon morning newspaper, the Daily Tidings, contains a reference to the Gale Norton scandal. Norton served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

After granting some potential valuable oil shale leases to Shell, she resigned to become Shell General Counsel in the oil shale division.

Soon after the inevitable public outcry, I was approached by the US government official leading the investigation and supplied Shell internal leaked documents and other assistance for which he was duly grateful and stated as such in an email.

My involvement was referred to in an article published by the Guardian newspaper in October 2009:

“And now, Donovan says, he is helping US investigators looking into the award of oilfield drilling licenses, providing them with information leaked to his website.”

There was no satisfactory outcome to the investigation. Just a lasting smell attached to the Gale Norton job transfer, as is evident from the article published today, a decade after the event.

Extract from the Daily Tiding article:

Then there was President George W. Bush’s Secretary, Gale Norton, who came under investigation by the Justice Department after she began working for Royal Dutch Shell. Apparently she didn’t understand that it was illegal to negotiate future employment with an oil company while giving them leases to drill on public lands.

Related extract from a Wikipedia article:

On September 17, 2009, the United States Department of Justice opened another investigation into whether Norton’s employment at Royal Dutch Shell violated a law that bars federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in decisions that could benefit that company.[9] The investigation focused on a 2006 decision by Norton’s agency to award oil shale leases to Royal Dutch Shell, an agreement potentially worth billions of dollars. In 2010, the Justice Department closed the criminal probe, declining to press charges. Norton called the investigation a waste of money. Kris Kolesnik, an associate inspector general at the Interior Department defended the Justice Department’s action, saying “we appropriately and thoroughly investigated serious allegations.”[10] and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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