U.S. Rep. Joe Barton’s fellow Republicans quickly forced him to apologize for his “shakedown” remark and to retract his apology to BP. A little more about Barton, a Texan, from the NY Daily News:

Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican who once angered ailing 9/11 responders by comparing them to the cartoon character Wimpy, called Tony Hayward the victim of a “$20 billion shakedown.”

Barton was referring to President Obama‘s faceoff with the BP barons that ended with the oil company promising to finance a $20 billion fund to compensate victims.

“Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), who represents oil-endangered Pensacola, Fla. “His comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

Before his election to Congress, Barton was an executive with ARCO, which was later acquired by BP.

He has taken $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the industry since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Barton’s backers have been political action committees and employees of Anadarko Petroleum, Exxon Mobil and Valero Energy, the watchdog group reported.

It’s interesting that Miller would react so strongly because he is a member of the Republican Study Group, whose chairman released a statement making the same “shakedown” comment for which Barton apologized.

[I]n an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the President to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account.

“BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House’s new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics.

Louisiana U.S. Representatives Rodney Alexander, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming and Steve Scalise are also members of this Republican Study Group. One wonders if they will also disavow the “shakedown” statement.

Update: Fleming reportedly agrees with the Study Group’s characterization of the escrow fund.


Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and...