U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in Louisiana has dismissed a charge against former BP plc executive David Rainey, who was accused of obstructing a congressional investigation concerning the Macondo well blowout in April 2010 (United States of America v. David Rainey, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 12-29). The government failed to allege knowledge of a pending congressional investigation, and the law Rainey was charged under did not apply to congressional subcommittee investigations, the judge stated in a 44-page ruling. U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), whose inquiry was the basis for the obstruction charge, said he thought the ruling was incorrect. “When a judge undercuts Congress’ ability to keep companies like BP honest, he undercuts the voice of Americans everywhere,” Markey said. “This was a congressional investigation, plain and simple, and this kind of narrow and off-the-wall interpretation of how Congress investigates wrongdoing is deeply troubling.” Rainey still faces a felony charge carrying a maximum five-year sentence for making false statements to federal investigators (see NGI, Nov. 19, 2012).

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