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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Federal Inspectors Took Gifts, Traded Porn

May 25, 2010 - 4:00 PM | by: Malini Wilkes

Passing around internet porn. Using illegal drugs. Accepting gifts from the oil companies.

Apparently, all that went on in the Lake Charles, Louisiana office of the federal Minerals Management Service between 2000 and 2008. And some of the workers involved were inspectors on offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The long and troubling list of employee behavior is outlined in a new report from the Interior Department’s Inspector General. The IG released her findings early because of attention to the BP oil spill.

Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall says her greatest concern is the cozy relationships between federal inspectors and oil companies, and how easily inspectors move back and forth between industry and government.

For example, the report found one worker conducted four inspections on an oil company platform while he was actively negotiating for a job with that same company.

The investigation also found that oil companies invited inspectors to all kinds of events including “skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils and Christmas parties.” Investigators confirmed that inspectors attended many of these events.

There’s more.

Investigators found emails containing porn or links to porn sites. They found additional emails containing racist or sexist humor. Two workers admitted using illegal drugs.

Perhaps the most damning allegation was that some inspectors allowed oil company workers to fill out the federal inspection forms. The inspector general was not able to conclusively substantiate that tip from a confidential source.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar responded to the report in a statement, calling it “deeply disturbing” and “further evidence of the cozy relationship between some elements of MMS and the oil and gas industry.”

But Salazar was quick to defend his own record. Both he and the inspector general point out that the report covers ethical lapses before he became Interior Secretary.

Salazar notes that he implemented new ethics rules in 2009. He has asked the inspector general to expand her investigation to the period after 2009, looking into any possible failures to enforce standards at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

Some of the employees mentioned in the report have resigned, been fired or referred for prosecution. The rest are on administrative leave.

Several weeks after the BP oil spill Salazar announced that he would break up the Minerals Management Service, reorganizing it into three separate bureaus.

(Fox’s Kristin Brown contributed to this report.)

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