Industry Bankrolls Officials’ Travel

By Avni Patel

Nov 2, 2007 2:18pm

Federal safety officials took trips paid for by the very manufacturers whose products they are supposed to regulate, the Washington Post reported today. Sound like a familiar story? It is. Senior government officials responsible for the safety of the nation’s air, water, food and medicine have all taken trips sponsored by the industries they are supposed to watchdog. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter Withheld Report Faults Bureaucrats’ Fancy Travel Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Since 1997, officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in trips to places like Taiwan, Cuba, Atlantic City and Las Vegas, the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported in April. While some of the trips were legitimate "fact-finding missions," many of the trips were paid for by companies who received EPA contracts and grants, lobbied the federal government or were tied to polluters, CPI found. Officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were little better, having taken $1.3 million in trips paid by groups tied to drug and medical-related companies since 1999, CPI concluded in a separate report. While FDA rules prohibit employees from taking trips paid for by companies that the agency regulates or by their trade groups, the Center found a loophole had allowed agency employees to accept travel from nonprofit groups with membership and financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical-related companies. How did one FDA official characterize his agency’s oversight of employee travel?  "Very tight." Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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