Fla. AG wants BP claims process to be clearer


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s attorney general said Wednesday that she wants more responsiveness from the administrator handling a $20 billion Gulf oil spill claims fund.

Republican Pam Bondi told journalists at The Associated Press’ annual legislative meeting that eliminating delays in responses to claims from Florida businesses is at the top of her radar. Bondi said she plans to step up the state’s pressure on Ken Feinberg, the claims fund administrator.

“You are going to see us get a lot more aggressive on that issue,” she said. “There has to be more transparency in the claims process.”

Feinberg, coincidentally, was scheduled to attend town hall meetings Wednesday in Fort Walton Beach and Panama City Beach and also a meeting of Florida hospitality officials in Tampa. He has been holding meetings to discuss ways to improve the process for compensating people who lost money because of the spill.

Thousands of Florida businesses were disrupted through much of the summer by the spill that resulted from an April 20 explosion that destroyed a BP-leased drilling rig.

Bondi also said Gov. Rick Scott’s freeze on new state regulations will not slow down her efforts to shut down so-called pill mills across Florida that are dispensing unnecessary amounts of pain medication.

“It’s our job, in the attorney general’s office, to find out who the bad actors are and go after them,” Bondi said.

The former Tampa prosecutor said the Board of Medicine is responsible for regulating clinics and didn’t believe it would be subject to the governor’s executive order to freeze new rules.

Bondi hired former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a South Florida Democrat to run investigations into the pill mill operations.

Mortgage fraud, public corruption and immigration were among the other high profile issues outlined by Bondi as priorities in the attorney general’s office.

“I could go on all day about all the issues we’re looking at,” she said.

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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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