In June, the AP reported that Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) owns hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of BP stock, according to financial disclosures. Shortly after the spill, Sensenbrenner focused his criticism on President Obama, attacking him for “publicly chastising and threatening BP” when BP “likely wants this resolved more than anyone.”
At a town hall in Saukville, Wisconsin on Tuesday, Sensenbrenner told ThinkProgress that he would not recuse himself from BP-related votes, despite his financial ties to the company. However, Sensenbrenner said BP executives “don’t deserve any type of executive bonuses,” and if he were on the BP corporate board, he would vote against using shareholder money for bonuses this year:
TP: Do you think BP should suspend dividend payments and executive bonuses until the spill is cleaned up? And also, do you think the U.S. government should repeal the special tax breaks given to BP, like the $4 billion in special subsidies that was reported last weekend.
SENSENBRENNER: Well let me say number one, the determination whether to suspend dividend payments or executive bonuses is going to have to be made by the BP board of directors. However BP is a corporation that is not organized by the laws of any state in the United States of America and is a British corporation subject to British corporate law. The point that I would make for issues such as this, there are a lot of pension funds in the United States and elsewhere that have heavily invested in BP stock even though the BP stock has gone down by 50%. [...] If I were on the board of directors of BP, which I am not, you know the bonus depends on how well they do, basically how the bottom line is. The bottom line has tanked so I don’t think they deserve any type of executive bonus. But again, this is the shareholders’ money.
As a laissez faire conservative, Sensenbrenner is unwilling to bring legal pressure to bear on BP, hoping instead that the BP board does the right thing on bonuses. Another major BP shareholder in Congress, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), has criticized President Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium.
Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) has called on BP to suspend its payment of bonuses and instead use that money to help Gulf Coast families who have been victimized by the oil spill.