Many conservatives have been criticizing the Obama administration for what they regard as a harsh treatment of BP in the wake of its Gulf oil spill. Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul called the White House pressure on BP “un-American.” Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP (and later apologized and then unapologized for the apology) for what he called a White House “shakedown” of the oil giant after BP agreed to create a $20 billion escrow account to compensate claims resulting from the spill.
Greg Sargent reports that yesterday on a local Nevada radio show, the state’s GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle joined in, calling the BP escrow account a “slush-fund”:
CALLER I wanted to know what she thought of the $20 billion slush fund and whether or not government should be able to do that to a private company.
ANGLE: Well, the short answer is no, government shouldn’t be doing that to a private company. And, I think you named it clearly, it’s a slush fund. … But everyone in the petroleum industry shouldn’t be penalized for one bad person’s actions. It would be like throwing us all in prison because one person committed murder. And that’s exactly what’s going on here is it’s an overreaction by government for not the right reasons.
Angle contends that the White House is following “Saul Alinky’s rule for radicals. They are using this crisis now to get in cap-and-trade and every fine and penalty and slush fund.” Listen here:
As Sargent noted, Angle’s comments are particularly egregious “since such funds imply corruption and are often illegal.” Of course, the escrow is not a “slush fund” considering there is no bribery involved, and BP’s money is allotted for a specific purpose: helping victims of the disastrous oil spill which resulted from BP’s negligence. Moreover, BP agreed to set it up and in comments after BP made the deal to set up the account, CEO Tony Hayward took full responsibility and called the escrow account “the right thing“:
“From the outset we have said that we fully accepted our obligations as a responsible party. This agreement reaffirms our commitment to do the right thing. The President made it clear and we agree that our top priority is to contain the spill, clean up the oil and mitigate the damage to the Gulf coast community. We will not rest until the job is done.”
Angle is now walking back her comments that BP’s escrow account is a “slush fund.” From a statement on her campaign website:
Having had some time to think about it, the caller and I shouldn’t have used the term “slush fund”; that was incorrect.”
My position is that the creation of this fund to compensate victims was an important first step– BP caused this disaster and they should pay for it. But there are multiple parties at fault here and there should be a thorough investigation. We need to look into the actions, (or inactions) of the Administration and why the regulatory agency in charge of oversight was asleep at the wheel while BP was cutting corners. Every party involved should be held fully accountable.