Watch CBSN Live

Do you work for the Government or the Private Sector?

(AP / CBS)
A website advertising a mining and mineral consulting firm run by three employees of US Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) out of Denver has been shut down. The cached site is here. MMS regulates the leasing of millions of acres in federal lands by oil, gas and mining companies. One of the federal employees who ran the firm, Richard Fantel, is listed as the point of contact on an MMS request for private oil and gas company bids.

Fantel tells CBS News that he ran the business out of a home office but says, "My website never generated any business for me." He says he diverted some inquiries to other consultants involved with the venture but says he took the site down "because it's caused too much confusion." Fantel says he started the business over ten years ago and says MMS officials never asked him about it saying, "I don't think they ever knew about it." Fantel says if business had come to him through the site he would have cleared it through the ethics office and added, "I know the rules."

Patrick Etchart, spokesman for the MMS office in Denver told CBS News there are strict conflict of interst and ethic rules that all government employees must abide by. Etchart adds, "An employee would not be allowed to do any consulting work for a company that is interacting with the agency."