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May 25th, 2010
04:43 PM ET

Oil rig inspectors took company gifts, watchdog finds

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/25/art.mms.getty.jpg caption="The seal of U.S. Interior Department is seen during a news conference."]

Washington (CNN) – Federal inspectors overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted meals and tickets to sporting events from companies they monitored, according to a new report from the Interior Department's inspector general.

In one case, an inspector in the Minerals Management Service office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, conducted inspections of four offshore platforms while negotiating a job with the company, the report states. Others in the same office accepted tickets to the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, a college football bowl game. One inspector said, "Everyone has gotten some sort of gift before at some point" from companies they regulated, according to the report.

"Through numerous interviews, we found a culture where the acceptance of gifts from oil and gas companies were widespread throughout that office," the report states. But that culture waned after a supervisor in the agency's New Orleans, Louisiana, regional office was fired for taking a gift from a regulated company in 2007.

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