GOP Rep. Barton: Apologizes to BP CEO for Obama ‘Shakedown’
June 17, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-In his opening remarks during this morning’s congressional grilling of BP CEO Tony Hayward, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), said he was “ashamed” that the White House extracted $20 billion from BP, a private corporation, to pay the claims of Gulf oil spill victims. It’s a political “shakedown” railed Barton.
It’s simply stunning, that Republicans are siding with BP over their own country. Barton apologized to Tony Hayward again, as he declared that “I do not want to live in a country”… in which a private company is “subjected to political pressure” and a shakedown.
Congressman Barton: Perhaps the Gulf Coast residents can chip in and buy you a plane ticket.
(Update: Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), committee chairman, disagreed with Barton’s attacks on the BP escrow fund “in the strongest possible terms.” The compensation fund “is not a slush fund,”… “it’s not a shakedown,” said Markey. “This is in my opinion, the American government working at its best,” added Markey. And he said today’s hearing is sending a “signal” to other corporations that they will be “held accountable.”
(Further Update: Rep. Barton has benefited from $1.4 million from the oil and gas industry.
(Further Update: White House Press Secretary issued a response to Barton’s outrageous attacks: declaring it “shameful” that he “seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy,’ but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments.”
(Further Update: The full transcript of Barton’s remarks is below, as well as video, courtesy of Think Progress:
BARTON: “I’m speaking totally for myself, I’m not speaking for the Republican Party, I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself. But I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporate can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown — with the Attorney General of the United States who is conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do that to protect the American people — participating in what amounts to a $20 million slush fund which I think set a terrible precedent for the future.
If I called you into my office, and I had the subcommittee chairman Mr. Stupak with me who was legitimately subjecting an oversight investigation on your company and said if you put so many millions of dollars in a project in my constitutional district I could go to jail and should go to jail. Now, there is no question that British Petroleum owns this leak, that BP made decisions that objective people may question. There is no question that BP is liable for the damages, but we have a due process system where we go through hearings, in some cases court cases, litigation and determine what those damages are and when those damages should be paid.
So I’m only speaking for myself, I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize, I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen for a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is again in my words amounts to shakedown. So I apologize.”