Gov’t Official Violated Ethics Rules To Get ‘Burning Man’ Tickets
How far would you go to get tickets to Burning Man? Well, one Bureau of Land Management (BLM) official violated federal ethics rules to obtain sold-out tickets to the event, according to investigators.
“We found that the Supervisory Agent violated Federal ethics rules when he used his influence with Burning Man officials to obtain three sold-out tickets and special passes for his father, girlfriend, and a family friend,” the Interior Department inspector general’s office wrote in a new report.
The BLM agent also got his family special passes to watch the “Man Burn” — “the high point of the Burning 5 Man event when an effigy is burned at the temple,” according to DOI.
BLM agents provide security at the Burning Man festival, which is held every year on federally-managed Black Rock Desert land in Nevada. The BLM agent in question helped come up with the security plan for the event, but also pressed Burning Man officials for tickets so his family could honor a deceased relative.
It’s not clear exactly why the BLM agent’s family wanted to honor a deceased relative at a festival known for sex, drugs and hippie music. DOI even noted “Burning Man had a history of illegal drugs, assaults, violence, and other criminal activity, in spite of its largely peaceful reputation.”
Despite the event being sold-out to the public, the BLM agent got an attorney for Black Rock City LLC (BRC), a subsidiary of the group that organizes Burning Man, to sell him three tickets and give him special passes to see the Man Burn, which violated federal ethics rules.
“The BRC Attorney told us that a BRC Official controlled the special passes and that they had never before been provided to a BLM employee’s family members,” DOI reported. “The BRC Official still gave the Supervisory Agent the passes because being gracious was part of the Burning Man culture.”
That’s not all, DOI investigators found the BLM agent “directed on-duty BLM law enforcement employees to drive and escort his family during the event with BLM-procured, all-terrain and utility type vehicles.” And the agent’s girlfriend “stayed overnight with him in his BLM assigned trailer, contrary to restrictions in the operations plan for the event.”
The BLM official “also violated Federal ethics regulations by having a subordinate employee make a hotel reservation for his guests” and “misused his BLM official vehicle when he transported his girlfriend while at the event.”
When asked by a colleague if he’d driven his girlfriend around in a government vehicle, the BLM agent said, “You will forget that you saw that.”
The BLM agent tried to contact several people interviewed by investigators to influence their testimony. The BLM agent told his colleagues to tell DOI investigators that sheriff department offiers’ wives had attended Burning Man and eaten out of the government commissary.
“You know, if you don’t side with me, grenades are going to go off and you’ll get hit,” the BLM agent told a colleague he believed had complained about his potential ethics violations.
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