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: bsee, john oliver, phone records, scott angelle, swamp


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 8:45am

    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!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 24 Apr 2019 @ 5:59pm

      Swamp the Drain

      It's been said before, but this is clearly a Freudian Spill, much like the Coalition of the Drilling. They SAY Draining the Swamp, but clearly they will do the opposite.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:02am

    If they're...

    ...anything like my phone records, it's more a game of find the three calls out of fifty eight pages of scams and telemarketers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:31am

      Re: If they're...

      Why do you have records of who's calling you? Are you still paying by the minute for received calls? I'd have expected landline-style billing by now, with only outgoing (charged) calls creating any records.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:44am

        Why do you have records of who's calling you?

        We have things called “cell phones” which record the numbers of calls both incoming and outgoing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          norahc, 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:46am

          Re:

          If we didn't have them, how else would cops use the Third Party Doctrine to snoop thru our lives on fishing expiditions?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:46am

          Re:

          So you're saying the records came from the phone, not the carrier? That makes sense but I might have expected Angelle not to keep such records, given the choice.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:09am

            Re: Re:

            He's a government employee; the phone belongs to the government, not him. THEY keep the records, because they're required to by law.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:10am

              Re: Re: Re:

              He's a government employee; the phone belongs to the government, not him. THEY keep the records, because they're required to by law.

              The story says personal phone, and that he was doing this specifically to avoid the mandated recordkeeping.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                hegemon13, 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re:

                The moment he provided the number as a contact for government business, it stopped being his personal phone and started falling under record retention requirements.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 12:44pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: 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).

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        sumgai (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re: If they're...

        Nope.

        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.

        sumgai

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:08am

          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).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:14am

            Of course we should have these records. We should have the full voice content too

            Do you happen to work in Amazon’s Alexa department, by any chance?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Bamboo Harvester (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 1:07pm

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

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

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

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

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 2:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 2:50pm

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

                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.

                lolwut? yes they could.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 4:20pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Bamboo Harvester (profile), 25 Apr 2019 @ 6:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 25 Apr 2019 @ 1:08am

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

            "Bamboo Harvester mentioned seeing these records on a bill"

            No he didn't. You just assumed something and based your whole silly argument on that incorrect assumption. As usual.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 10:53am

    How long before some scandal involving Oliver comes out?

    Remember anti-Trump hero Avenatti?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      If a scandal involving Oliver were going to come out, it already would have. He makes a habit of embarrassing very powerful people.

      Avenatti was an ambulance chasing lawyer who hit the jackpot -- he had lots of dirt on him before he ever took the Daniels case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 1:03pm

      Re:

      If an Oliver scandal did break out I expect he'd use it as fodder for his comedy and nobody would think any less of him.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2019 @ 1:40pm

      Re: are you a grape?

      Because you sound jelly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 24 Apr 2019 @ 11:36am

    Houston We Have A Problem

    Uh, Captain? Someone just clogged the drain. How can we drain the swamp with evil corporations poop clogging the drain?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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