Did Porn Cause the Oil Spill in the Gulf?

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No. But regulators looking at pornography, doing illegal drugs and other bad behavior explains part of the reason why the government failed to do its part to prevent the disaster. A new report (.pdf) from the Interior Department's Inspector General details how the Minerals Management Service (MMS) employees who were supposed to be watching over the Louisiana region acted more like criminals than public servants. The report has some pretty awful findings.

Conflicts of interest existed between many MMS employees and the industry they regulated. The companies sponsored MMS sporting events, provided employees meals, and gave them lavish gifts, according to the report. It says was widespread throughout the culture of the office. Some examples of the gifts include: a trip to the 2005 Peach Bowl college football tournament, skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, etc.

What did they get for these gifts? MMS inspectors allowed oil and gas production company personnel to fill out their own inspection forms, says the report. It's pretty easy to pass an inspection when you do it yourself.

And that's not all. Two employees admitted using illegal drugs -- crystal meth and cocaine.

Then, there's the porn. The report says:

We reviewed the e-mail accounts of MMS employees at the Lake Charles and New Orleans offices from 2005 to 2009. We found numerous instances of pornography and other inappropriate material on the e-mail accounts of 13 employees, six of whom have resigned. We specifically discovered 314 instances where the seven remaining employees received or forwarded pornographic images and links to Internet websites containing pornographic videos to other federal employees and individuals outside of the office using their government e-mail accounts.

What is it with bureaucrats and pornography? Last month, we learned that some SEC employees were busy surfing porn when they should have been discovering fraud or preventing the financial crisis. When will the government put some filters on its computers?

Of course, the real question here is why government regulators don't just fail to do their jobs, but strive to fail so spectacularly? The report blames nepotism. It says most of the problem employees were hired more due to connections than actual knowledge or experience in the industry.

(h/t: Business Insider)

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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
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