Attorney General Troy King issued a “consumer alert” about the Gulf Coast Claims Facility this morning, warning that claims administrator Ken Feinberg “works for BP” and has been misleading oil spill victims.
In the news release, King cautions Alabamians about joining the claims process instead of suing, noting complaints about unpaid, underpaid and slowly paid claims made against BP PLC and other responsible parties because of the summer’s massive oil spill.
Feinberg, who was named to lead the claims process by President Barack Obama, said in a telephone interview that King’s release was itself misleading. Spill victims are eligible to receive interim payments for three years without giving up their right to sue, he said.
“I think that the attorney general’s consumer alert is a disservice to the citizens of Alabama,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg has encouraged those affected by the spill to join the claims process. But King said he is paid an $850,000 monthly fee by BP and therefore not a neutral arbiter.
“It is unfortunate, but clear to me, that our citizens cannot simply accept Mr. Feinberg’s words and follow his advice, trusting it to be in their best interest. In some cases, it may well not be so,” King said in the news release.
King went on to accuse Feinberg of misrepresenting himself to spill victims regarding whether his role in the process is neutral or tilted in favor of the oil giant.
“I am deeply concerned that people may be misled by statements that claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg has made, which quite frankly, are simply not true,” the statement said.
Feinberg declined to address the criticism directed at him in the release, saying he was instead focused on making sure that eligible claims get paid.
“This isn’t about me, and it’s not personal,” Feinberg said. “That type of criticism, I guess, goes with the territory.”