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Next, we have a story about that classic trio: sex, drugs and oil royalties. The Interior Department's inspector general has described a, quote, "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" at a government office that manages income from oil drilling in the United States. NPR's justice correspondent, Ari Shapiro, has more.
ARI SHAPIRO: Anyone who thinks government publications are boring needs to read these reports by the Interior Department's inspector general. They focus on an office in Denver that's part of the Minerals Management Service. MMS handles oil and gas company payments for drilling in the U.S. It's one of the federal government's biggest sources of income, apart from taxes.
According to these reports, office employees accepted tens of thousands of dollars in gifts, and they, quote, "used cocaine and marijuana and had sexual relations with oil and gas company representatives."
Senator BILL NELSON (Democrat, Florida): We now have proof that they are both literally and figuratively in bed with big oil.
SHAPIRO: Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has fought against new offshore oil drilling. Congress is about to start debating just that. These reports give Nelson ammunition.
Sen. NELSON: Big oil has used sex and drugs and illegal gifts with U.S. government watchdogs that are charged with keeping a watchful eye on the oil industry's offshore leasing program in the Gulf of Mexico.
SHAPIRO: But there were internal problems, too, that had nothing to do with the oil companies. The inspector general describes the government office as having, quote, "a culture of ethical failure." David Smith is a spokesman for the Minerals Management Service.
Mr. DAVID SMITH (Spokesman, Minerals Management Service): As public employees, we hold ourselves to a higher standard, especially in the ethical realm. And this type of behavior is not something that we condone.
SHAPIRO: He says his office was pleased to get the reports.
Mr. SMITH: This is an investigation that we requested back in 2006 after an MMS employee raised allegation of ethical lapse.
SHAPIRO: One employee already pleaded guilty to violating conflict-of-interest laws.
Investigators recommended firing those who are still working in the office and making sure they never work for the royalty program again. Some people who already moved on may not face any consequences.
Spokesman David Smith says his office is reviewing the reports' recommendations and will decide on the best course of action. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.