Republican Congressman Steve King says he’s concerned British Petroleum may be asked to pay damages to people who have no “legitimate” business connection to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Some will argue that this is a natural disaster because it fits their insurance or their legal parameters, and others will argue that, no, it’s man-made,” King says. “But I think it’s clear that BP has stepped up and said they are going to pay all legitimate claims.”
According to King, the question is what is a legitimate claim. “How many tiers of the economy you can go through becomes a legitimate question and I don’t know that I have a moral standard or an economic standard that defines that precisely,” King says. “I just know when you have go-go dancers that aren’t getting tips, that’s probably going too far if you’re going to pay them what they’re missing on tips because the well-drillers aren’t going into the bar. Where do you stop? There’s an infinite number of ripples in the economy that this (oil spill) has caused. There has to be a place to stop.”
A congressman from Texas was under fire earlier this month for apologizing to BP executives during a congressional hearing. King has been among the few Republicans in congress who’ve defended Texas Congressman Joe Barton’s assertion that the White House engaged in a shake-down of BP over that $20 billion reparation fund for oil spill victims.
“The part that I’m agreeing with is when he said it is a shake-down. I didn’t agree with the word apology…but it was a shake-down and the members of the cabinet were in the room, pushing on BP who had already made a decision to set aside $20 billion,” King says. “The White House was shaking ’em down to get an independent distribution system that they could control politically. And who is in the room? Eric Holder, who happens to be doing a criminal investigation on the officers of BP.”
King charges that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in the room to “intimidate” BP executives. “I’ve watched the moves of the White House since this began and the president’s remarks, in talking about kicking some gluteus maximus, and other tactics of the White House have contributed to driving down the share value of BP,” King says. “…How much can they stand until they become insolvent?”
King says Obama and the rest of administration should have worked more cooperatively with BP, to ensure “all hands are on deck” to stop and clean up the spill. But King also says he is “worried” BP has “distorted the facts” about the cause and the magnitude of the spill.
King made his comments during an interview with Radio Iowa.