Twice a year, members of the Cobb County ethics board meet to deal with housekeeping matters. Then they go home. For a time last year, DeKalb’s ethics board couldn’t even muster a quorum. And in Fulton, a state legislator contends the ethics board cannot impose fines or sanctions because its members were appointed improperly. Bottom line: Local ethics boards get no respect.
The fines that oil companies have paid for offshore drilling safety violations are dwarfed by their profits. Fines against BP have been the equivalent of a rounding error. From 1998 through 2007, BP paid less than $580,000 in penalties for its 12 safety violations. Last quarter, the British oil giant turned a profit of $5.6 billion.