From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating whether a former secretary of the interior, Gale A. Norton, violated the law by granting valuable leases to Royal Dutch Shell around the time she was considering going to work for the company after she left office, officials said Thursday.
The officials said investigators had recently turned up information suggesting that Ms. Norton had had discussions while in office with Royal Dutch Shell about future career opportunities. In early 2006, Ms. Norton’s department awarded three tracts in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary for shale exploration. In December 2006, she joined Shell as the company’s general counsel in the United States for unconventional oils, a company spokeswoman said.
Ms. Norton, 55, was President George W. Bush’s first interior secretary. In that job, she was an ally of Vice President Dick Cheney in the administration’s general approach of opening up more federal lands for energy exploration.
The possibility that Ms. Norton violated the law by seeking employment with a company while she was a federal official in a position to benefit the company stemmed from an investigation of many months by the Interior Department’s inspector general.
For more than a year, Interior Department investigators have been looking into Ms. Norton’s dealings with Shell. They interviewed dozens of department officials about the program to lease tracts for shale exploration.
The officials from the office of inspector general recently turned over their findings to the Justice Department.