BP is paying the man in charge of overseeing its $20 billion victim compensation fund for its devastation of the Gulf of Mexico over $10 million a year. The choice of Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg to manage the fund in June 2010 was widely lauded at the time, as he had dealt with the challenging tasks of managing the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and serving as Obama’s special master for TARP executive compensation. “I’m running an independent claims facility,” Feinberg told the world.
Since then, however, Feinberg has battled with the victims of BP’s toxic crime, trying to compel them to accept small checks in return for signing away any further right to challenge BP. He claimed that “the Gulf of Mexico should largely recover from BP’s oil spill by the end of next year,” in flat contradiction to all scientific evidence.
A federal judge rebuked Feinberg for claiming to be “independent” when he is in fact a paid contractor of BP, and now even the oil-friendly Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is outraged by the size of Feinberg’s take from the disgraced oil giant:
Feinberg, a Washington lawyer who previously administered the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and his law firm negotiated a contract with BP to be paid $850,000 a month for overseeing the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which doles out compensation to victims of the oil spill. That salary comes up for review every three months, Vitter said. . . . He also said the $850,000 a month salary “seems staggering, particularly in that it’s not tied in any way to any certain number of hours worked by any certain number of people.”
Feinberg’s compensation from BP — which pays for the services of four attorneys — dwarfs what nearly any of the claimants are receiving for having their livelihoods and communities devastated and poisoned. Meanwhile, BP is complaining that Feinberg’s settlements are too generous.