Before Deepwater Horizon Disaster – Wyomingites Had Key Roles in MMS

Randall Luthi. David J. Gribbin III, Thomas Sansonett, Rejane “Johnnie” Burton, Rebecca W. Watson and more-

“Cody Coyote” has commented here numerous times about the importance of several Wyoming politicos in the scandal ridden performance of MMS under George W. Bush.  Many were chosen by Dick Cheney.

Now WyoFile has a detailed article on these people and their maneuvering. Before Deepwater Horizon Disaster – Wyomingites Had Key Roles in MMS.  By Rone Tempest. WyoFile



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  1. Jeff Avatar

    I like how Randolf Luthi’s cousin, from Freedom, Wyoming, is on a panel that gets to decide the federal court with jurisdiction in this case. BP prefers Houston—a little friendlier territory for oil executives.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Interesting how a small cabal of people could so corrupt a bureau and lead to what is perhaps the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

  3. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Yes, my Wyoming has sent some real gnaves to Washington in recent decades . It’s a long litany with two very common threads: Dick Cheney and that other guy Al Simpson.

    Here’s an odd sidebar: back in the Naivete Period of Wyoming’s burgeoning energy boom , in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, Wyoming was almost dead broke. At one point it had only $ 500 in its state General Fund. This was the spoils of having your state run by ranchers and railroads for the first 75 years or so.

    We elected a pretty decent Republican Governor, a gentleman named Stan Hathaway who was progressive and open minded for a Republican , and a genuine conservative in the richest since ( a William Buckley conservative governance activist vs. a Rush Limbaugh ideologic government destroyer ). Hathaway rescued Wyoming , among other things creating both minerals severance taxes and a Permanent Mineral Trust Fund, both very good and necessary programs , to this day. He left office with great kudos fr a job well done.

    Hathaway became Secretary of the Interior in Washington under Gerald Ford. He lasted only four months , suffering a debilitating nervous breakdown.

    Who did Wyoming send to Washington next ? Malcolm Wallop then Al Simpson , the two tallest baldest Senators in the Forum. Meanwhile, Cheney was interning inside the Beltway under –ta da!–William Rumsfeld . Cheney was gerald Ford’s campaign managers, eventually became Ford’s Chief of Staff , served as Secretary of the Navy , and some other interesting posts ( Wikipedia him for the sordd details). Not too shabby for a five-deferrment draft dodger. Wallop does not enter into these tales, but neither is he excused.
    Al Simpson , on the other hand , appears to have been the Doctor Frankenstein building political monsters in his tower , like that beast named James Gaius Watt. Simpson also nurtured Randall Luthi. Many dark threads and ominous weave patterns passed through Simpson’s loom, although the man himself—confidante to both Reagan and Bush I— made a clean escape and retains his luster to this day , not undeservedly. Big Al has had some epiphanies. Prostate cancer will do that , among other reagents. But he, too, should not be excused.

    Watt served both Cheney and Simpson before rising to his own lofty eminence as an Overlord of Cabinet level Pro-Industry Zealously-Religious Anti-Environmentalism who actually wanted to drill, mine, graze , and otherwise commercialize every acre of public land out there. There’s not enough space on Ralph’s blog to print the sordid history of James G. Watt, but it’s worth noting he was indicted by a Grand Jury on 25 felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. My favorite Watt quote: “If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.”

    It is a small blessing that Watt served as Secretary of the Interior for Ronald Reagan for only 3 years before being defrocked , but at the time it seemed an eternity. Had Watt remained in power instead of running off to start the Mountain States Legal Foundation and thereby creating his own monsters, Gail Norton and Anne Veneman , he would have eclipsed Darth Cheney for industrial geopolitical corruption. He did enough damage as is. Everything happening today , Watt pioneered.

    And now we have the likes of the Luthi’s, Doctor No Barrasso, Cynthia Lummis, and who can forget that other Wicked Witch of the West , 7-term Congresswoman Barbara Cubin who alongside Idaho’s Helen Chenowith made Sarah Palin look like Pollyanna. They just weren’t as telegenically tabloid attractive. Another small grace.

    The bright white light of the media is beginning to shine hard on the Wyoming Rogue’s Gallery , in particular Randall Luthi and his tenure at Minerals Management , as of last week. I might have had a little something to do with that .

    Better late than never.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Cody Coyote,

    Thanks for shining the spotlight on Wyoming’s anti-conservation mafia. I guess the Cliff Hansen family is a generation earlier, although I see his late daughter’s (Mary Mead) kin are always trying to break into state politics.

    Someone should write about the deeds and connections of Idaho’s recent ruling class during the reign of Dirk Kempthorne.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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