New efforts are needed to end the "hanky-panky" between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them, a top House Democrat said Thursday.

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that efforts should be made to ensure the recruitment of more independent employees into regulatory agencies.

"We have to look at these relationships in these agencies and the people, because there's just too much hanky-panky," Towns said during an appearance on MSNBC.

Democrats have said that too many former employees of oil companies dominate agencies like the Minerals Management Service (MMS), whose director resigned Thursday over her handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Democrats also say that the cozy relationship between industry and regulators is a vestige of the Bush administration.

"And I think now we need to look at different ways and methods to get people with expertise," Towns said. "We need to make sure that we have capable, competent people who are able to go in and make the assessment."