Sex, drugs and oil: corruption scandal rocks US gov’t agency

WASHINGTON, September 11, 2008 (AFP) – US Department of the Interior employees who handled billions of dollars in oil contracts improperly engaged in sex with energy company employees, a report released Wednesday said.

The report drafted by the department’s inspector general Earl Devaney deplored “a culture of ethical failure” and said the investigation uncovered a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity.”

The alleged misconduct involve at least 13 current and former employees of the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) accused of rigging contracts and accepting gifts and engaging in “illicit sexual encounters” with subordinates and industry representatives, Devaney said.

One of the accused has already pled guilty to a criminal charge, the report said.

Following a two-year, five-million-dollar investigation which included testimony from 233 witnesses and 470,000 pages of documentation, Devaney said the inquiry “revealed… a pervasive culture of exclusivity, exempt from the rules that govern all other employees of the federal government.”

Between 2002 and 2006, nearly one-third of the MMS staff — in Washington and the western city of Denver — received gifts and gratuities from en