BP Paying Handsomely to Brand the $20 Billion Claims Fund “Independent”


Anyone questioning the independence of compensation czar Kenneth Feinberg – given that his firm is being paid a lot of money by BP – now has more doubts in light of the revelation that the law professor who publicly supported the claims of Feinberg’s independence is being paid $950 an hour by BP.

Not a bad gig.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers is apparently doing a special kind of Washington dance, where you offer apparently free and independent opinions and then, after a short time, begin making money with those who agree with your formerly “independent” findings. It’s done all the time – but that doesn’t mean anybody in the Gulf is going to buy it.

Mr. Feinberg tells the Associated Press that Mr. Gillers will be paid by BP separately from the compensation fund. So Gillers’ “ethics advice” client will not even be the “independent fund,” but BP proper.

What we have here, beneath all the bull, is yet another reason for Gulf residents to doubt Mr. Feinberg’s independence. And, remember, this comes as a court is considering demands that the compensation administrator take a more neutral tone instead of backing what many see as the BP talking points.

It is not our finest moment in terms of building Gulf resident trust.

See AP report here: http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/gulf-spill-fund-pays-for-czars-ethics-advice/1203603/Dec-30-2010_3-39-pm/

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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