Guy In Charge Of Oil Well Safety Gave Out His Cell Phone Number, Now Help Us Figure Out Who Called Him

from the drain-the-swamp dept

Last November, John Oliver had a fun episode of his show discussing whether or not President Trump had fulfilled his promise to “drain the swamp” (spoiler alert: he did not). Part of that episode focused on the story of Scott Angelle, who Trump appointed to run the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, an organization within the Department of the Interior, whose sole focus is supposed to be on enforcing safety standards for offshore oil drilling. The organization was created in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, after people realized that there was a conflict of interest in the existing government agency in charge of enforcing safety, the Minerals Management Service, because it was also in charge of collecting revenue from those very same oil companies. So the BSEE was set up solely to focus on safety. Except, as a NY Times profile made clear, when Scott Angelle took over, he seemed much more focused on using the position as a business opportunity for oil companies — perhaps not surprising, given that Angelle had very close ties with the industry, including getting $1 million to sit on the board of a pipeline company. In the report, which talked about just how often Angelle seemed to be meeting with oil execs, it noted:

Mr. Angelle?s speeches often center on helping the oil and gas industry cut costs and grow their businesses. And agency documents suggest moves he has already made could save the industry more than $1.3 billion in compliance costs over the next decade.

John Oliver and his team went further, highlighting speeches where Angelle directly seemed to cozy up with oil industry execs, including one where he (a) gives out his cell phone number, (b) tells industry execs to call him rather than text to avoid having their text messages released under FOIA, and (c) telling them that it was “a business opportunity” for those execs to “engage with” him. Oliver played the video, in which Angelle gives out his personal cell phone number: 571-585-3730.

That got me interested. So I filed a FOIA request asking for his phone bills, which would reveal who was calling him. The Department of the Interior actually sent me Angelle’s phone records back in February — though I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.

Now, Muckrock (the service I used to file the FOIA request) has set up a crowdsourcing campaign, asking people to go through Angelle’s phone records to see if there’s anything interesting in the 58 pages worth of phone calls listed there. There’s a special page on the Muckrock site that anyone can go to, view the phone bills and enter details about exactly who is calling Scott Angelle.

For what it’s worth, Muckrock also points out that another user successfully FOIA’d Angelle’s calendar as well, so you can see some of whom he was meeting with.

Please help us “drain the swamp” by figuring out who was calling Scott Angelle. And who knows, perhaps John Oliver will feature what you find on a future episode.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Guy In Charge Of Oil Well Safety Gave Out His Cell Phone Number, Now Help Us Figure Out Who Called Him”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Gary (profile) says:

Down the Drain

"Drain the Swamp" meant "Slice away anti-business laws/regulations."
Lower corporate taxes? Check.
More asbestos? Check.
Less safety oversight? Check!!

If your business hasn’t taken advantage of these business incentives yet, please make an appointment to stay at La Margo and talk to El Cheeto about how much it will cost to have some safety regulations slashed in your industry!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Of course, but that’s only an automatic legal right. How that translated into technical record access is the open question. Maybe they explained the law to Angelle and he forwarded the records; maybe they had to go to the telco (telco data collection/retention is itself a popular topic as of late).

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: If they're...


a) No law has ever prosribed a phone company from collecting all call information, both incoming and outgoing. Needless to say, this applies to both cell and land-line phones, and such things as metering or otherwise are also not any kind of factor. Now, whether or not they choose to keep/use this data is up to them, until a proscriptive law comes into existance.

b) We’re talking about government here, meaning public, so our forefathers of only a few decades ago wisely said that anything that concerns the public interest, directly or otherwise, should be available for public inspection – that’s why we have FOIA laws in the first place. Need I go into the correlation between public office and the person holding such office? I thought not.

Figure it like this: If Congress has the power to investigate the dealings of public officials, why would we, the public, not also have that power? I’d argue that since we The People are the ones who gave Congress that power in the first place, then it follows that we should be able to wield at least as much power, if not even more, in our own investigations of such public officials.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If they're...

Bamboo Harvester mentioned seeing these records on a bill, which I have not personally seen, so I’m wondering about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the telcos kept more detailed records; there’s just no mention here of where these records came from. (In the days of automated analog switiching, there really were no records of unbilled calls.)

Of course we should have these records. We should have the full voice content too—it’s, what, 8-16 kbps? That amount is trivial to store these days, and the data was digital from inception. But given that the guy was specifically trying to avoid FOIA, it’s interesting that we got anything (and he got no punishment).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 If they're...

No, I did not. I said "if they’re anything like my phone RECORDS…"

I meant seeing that type of record (non-chargeable calls being listed on a bill), rather than the specific records.

Doesn’t your cellphone keep a record of calls in, out, and missed?

Yes. Were I trying to avoid FOIA it’s the first thing I’d delete, and if at all possible disable.

BTW, your provider, cell or landline, CAN send you itemized call lists. If you’re willing to pay for them.

Good to know. And a bit worrying; police investigators used to have to request phone companies to start logging on a line—they couldn’t see details on old (free) calls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 If they're...

Mechanical switches did not collect logs, which is precisely why the pen register had to be invented. It was a physical device the cops or telco had to attach. If you made a local call and had no pen register on your line, there was no record. It was during the 80s that most of the USA switched to electronic systems, and maybe they kept logs, but I don’t recall hearing anything about it at the time. Even caller ID was controversial, for privacy reasons, when introduced circa 1988.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 If they're...

Are you living in a cave? With a Warrant, any law enforcement can get an itemized list of every call to and from any phone number, including the length of the connection.

And the carriers are required to hold such records for years.

Want to know what calls were made to and from your phone on July 3rd, 2013? Request it from your carrier and pay for the hard copy – they’ve got those records.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...