WASHINGTON – The administrator of a $20 billion Gulf oil spill compensation fund said Tuesday that he will disclose the salary BP is paying him, after initially declining to do so.
Ken Feinberg told The Associated Press Tuesday that he plans to reveal the sum in the next couple of weeks, after the fund has an operational budget. It’s slated to be up and running next month.
“I don’t want to just announce what my estimated salary is for the next few months, I want to give a budget that will include that salary,” he said.
Feinberg said he might ask an outsider with “great credibility” to set his salary.
Last week, Feinberg said he had an estimated salary, but declined to reveal it, telling reporters, “That’s something between me and BP.”
At an appearance at Public Citizen Tuesday, Feinberg acknowledged a “a perception of a conflict” with BP paying, but added, “Who else should pay?”
When a questioner suggested he could do the work pro bono, or free, Feinberg replied, “I’ve spent my career doing pro bono, thank you very much.”
At another appearance Tuesday, before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, asked how Feinberg would maintain his independence with BP paying his salary.
“I don’t see any difficulty in maintaining my independence,” Feinberg responded. “I certainly do see the implication of your question, which is there could be a perception that since BP is paying, shouldn’t we have more transparency or full disclosure, and I agree with that.”
Asked by another Texas Republican, Joe Barton, who his boss was, Feinberg said he didn’t have one.
“I think the fair answer, Congressman, would be that I report to the people in the Gulf,” he said. “Both the administration and BP, frankly, don’t want to get near me once this program is up and running, and they want to — they want to reinforce the notion I’m totally independent.”