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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida lawmakers rebuke fellow Republican over oil comments



Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton created news today when he apologized to BP executive Tony Hayward for the government "shakedown" resulting in a $20 billion escrow account to pay Gulf victims.

That brought a rebuke from Florida's Adam Putnam, R-Bartow. “Congressman Barton's comments were callous and inappropriate," Putnam said in a statement. "To say they were ill advised is an insult to advice. He owes the people of the Gulf Coast an apology, not the CEO of the company who may have cut corners to produce this horrific national tragedy.”

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Pensacola, called for Barton to step down from his ranking seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. "I am shocked by Congressman Joe Barton's reprehensible comments," he said.

Miller: "BP has caused the greatest ecological and environmental disaster our nation has ever seen.They are the responsible party and they should pay for losses and damages, not the taxpayer.  I am optimistic and hopeful that BP acted in good faith by opening the $20 billion escrow account, as several of us have requested."

During a House hearing earlier today, Barton said, "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House" on Wednesday. He has received at least $100,470 in political contributions from oil and gas interests since the beginning of 2009, the second-highest amount among all the committee members.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, issued a statement "denouncing" Barton's words. “People’s livelihoods are being threatened by this oil spill. The economic and cleanup costs are immeasurable at this point. BP is responsible for those costs and this Member of Congress will make sure they pay up. While the administration has bungled the response, the facts still remain that this is BP’s mess and they will be held accountable.”

UPDATE. Barton now says:

“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.”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:43am]


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