UPDATE: Rep. Joe Barton has issued this statement rescinding his apology to BP:
“I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP. As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico. BP should fully compensate those families and businesses that have been hurt by this accident. BP and the federal government need to stop the leak, clean up the damage, and take whatever steps necessary to prevent a similar accident in the future.
“I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident.”
BP Executive Gets Apology from Congressman, White House Responds
The “face” of BP, chief executive Tony Hayward, got something he probably didn’t expect on Capitol Hill Thursday – Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologizing to him for the White House’s treatment of BP.
Barton wasn’t happy that the White House – which has Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the oil spill in the Gulf – gave BP what he called a “shakedown” Wednesday. During a meeting with BP that Holder attended, the White House got a $20 billion dollar commitment from the company to pay for “damages resulting from the spill,” as President Obama explained it.
“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton told Hayward at a congressional hearing. “If I called you into my office and I had the subcommittee chairman Mr. Stupak with me, who was legitimately conducting an oversight investigation on your company, and said, “If you put so many millions of dollars in a project in my Congressional district,’ I could go to jail.”
Barton’s office told HUMAN EVENTS that the apology wasn’t planned or written out beforehand, to their knowledge. Barton made it clear that as far as the apology goes, he was speaking solely for himself. Barton also said, however, there is no question that BP made decisions that compromised safety and is liable for the damages.
But Barton is arguing with the process the White House used.
“We have a due process system where we go through hearings and some cases, court cases, litigation, and determine what those damages are, and when those damages should be paid,” Barton said. “I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.”
The White House wasn’t happy with Barton’s comments and released this statement:
“What is shameful is that Joe Barton 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.”