In the past five years, BP has given state officials more than 1,200 complimentary tickets to the Arco Arena, hosting them in its corporate suite to see Sacramento Kings games, World Extreme Cagefighting matches, and Britney Spears and Lil Wayne concerts. Getting the tickets is as easy as calling the BP ticket request line, an exclusive, unpublished phone number that appears to exist for the sole purpose of granting freebies to lawmakers, regulators, and their staffs.
"You make a request, leave it on the voicemail, and at some date the tickets either magically appear or they don't," says a legislative consultant who gave me the ticket line's number and spoke on condition of anonymity. "They don't talk to you; you just see 'em or you don't."
Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, said that there was nothing sinister in the photo alteration and provided the original unaltered version. He said that a photographer working for the company had inserted the three images in spots where the video screens were blank.
"Normally we only use Photoshop for the typical purposes of color correction and cropping," Dean said in an e-mail. "In this case they copied and pasted three ROV screen images in the original photo over three screens that were not running video feeds at the time."
Dean said BP usually has a couple remotely operated vehicles on the surface at any given time for maintenance.
"We will replace the Photoshopped version currently on bp.com with the original image tonight," he added. "We've instructed our post-production team to refrain from doing this in the future."