Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Democrats, Griffin differ on BP demands

Posted By on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 2:43 PM

BP DISASTER: Vessels work to capture oil.
  • Deepwater Horizon Response
  • BP DISASTER: Vessels work to capture oil.

Strange bedfellows. A Tim Griffin news release today cites an Arkansas Blog post in defense of the 2nd District Republican's position on BP's obligations in the Gulf oil disaster.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has criticized Griffin, based on the same statement to us.

On the jump, you'll find 1) Griffin's statement, and 2) the DCCC's statement, both issued today.

I think this is a fair summary:

Griffin wants BP held responsible for the entire cost of the CLEANUP, my emphasis. His campaign news release omits that important word in a restatement of what he told us last week.

That is not the same thing as being responsible for all damages — lost wages, damage to fisheries and more. On that issue, Griffin said clearly that the current $75 million liability limit for drilling disasters is too low (and probably moot), but he said there should be a damages cap of an unspecified amount because it "encourages investment and competition."

This is a key point. Griffin is on the record as saying business shouldn't be held responsible for all the damage they might cause. It's a worthy and familiar point of business-consumer political debate.

The DCCC is off-base in heading its news release as saying Griffin supports House Minority Leader Boehner's "BP bailout." For one thing, Boehner has backed off earlier supportive comments about BP. Democrats are busy holding him to his newfound accountability credentials. Still ... Griffin's position, if friendlier to the oil industry than other Arkansas candidates we questioned, was somewhere short of a bailout proposal. But still not good enough, I should add. I say if you cut somebody's legs off, it's not enough to pay for one artifical replacement.

TIM GRIFFIN NEWS RELEASE

GRIFFIN TO ARKANSAS TIMES:
BP RESPONSIBLE FOR OIL DISASTER, MUST BEAR 'ENTIRE FINANCIAL BURDEN'


Note: On Friday, Tim Griffin, through his spokesman, told the Arkansas Times blog that BP is responsible for ALL costs associated with the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Griffin also added that he believes the current liability cap should be increased.

The following is an excerpt from Friday's Arkansas Times blog:

Do GOP candidates back BP? UPDATES
Posted by Max Brantley on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 9:51 AM

...

Today, the DCCC wants to hear from Republican congressional candidates Tim Griffin (an admirer of Boeher who's running in the 2nd District) and from Rick Crawford (1st District) on what American taxpayers and the tens of thousands damaged along the coast should demand from BP.

...

Said Tim Griffin through a spokesman:

Tim believes it’s common sense: BP — not the American taxpayer — is responsible for the disaster in the Gulf and must bear the entire financial burden to clean it up (emphasis added)

I've followed up with Griffin on the liability cap. And here's the interesting UPDATE:

“I believe that, in this case, the liability cap is most likely a moot issue because BP will pay all applicable costs regardless of the statutory limit. The idea of a liability cap is a good one because it encourages investment and competition, which leads to innovation and job creation. Without it, only the very largest companies can compete, and highly successful smaller companies will be forced from the market. The current liability cap is 20 years old and should be increased, especially in light of the disaster in the Gulf"

DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE RELEASE

Why Is Big Oil Ally Tim Griffin Alone In Supporting Leader Boehner's Taxpayer-Funded BP Bailout?

House Republican Leader John Boehner suggested last week that taxpayers should bailout Big Oil giant BP for the economic and environmental clean-up in the Gulf, but both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress in Arkansas said they were against capping BP’s liability — except for Tim Griffin.

Tim Griffin supports protecting big oil companies from having to pay the clean up costs of environment disasters by refusing to lift the liability cap. Considering that Griffin has taken over $30,000 in campaign money from the Oil and Gas industry, plus the maximum contribution allowed from a register lobbyist for BP, it’s no surprise that he stands behind Republican leader Boehner’s suggestion of a taxpayer-funded BP bailout.

“It probably comes as no surprise that Tim Griffin wants to protect BP and Big Oil and put the bill on tax payers because he sold out to those Washington special interests a long time ago,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Tim Griffin may join Republican leader Boehner in backing a taxpayer bailout for oil company disasters, but the people of Arkansas know that the companies responsible should foot the bill. Tim Griffin’s sleazy background is filled with Washington insider deals but we’re learning more and more that his agenda was written in those same smoke filled rooms.”

Other Republicans and Democrats in Arkansas made clear last week that they support lifting liability caps to make sure BP pays for the cleanup.


BACKGROUND

Griffin opposes removing the liability cap for oil companies in disasters like the Deep Water Horizon tragedy in the gulf coast. The measure was supported by both Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress in Arkansas. [Arkansas Times, 6/11/10]

Griffin has taken $33,399 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. [Opensecrets.org]

Griffin accepted $4,800 from BP lobbyist. Griffin has accepted $4,800, the maximum allowed, from BP lobbyist Bob Brooks. [FEC.gov; FEC.gov; Opensecrets.org]

House Republican Leader John Boehner backed Tom Donohue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in saying taxpayers should help pick up the tab. “I think the people responsible in the oil spill — BP and the federal government — should take full responsibility for what’s happening there.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/10/10]

Tom Donohue, President of the Chamber of Commerce, “It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game. . . Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that.” [ABC News, May 28, 2010]

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