Just as the White House is criticizing one Republican lawmaker for
apologizing to BP, it's been revealed that a local GOP leader has
extensive stock holdings in BP and other oil companies.
The Associated Press is reporting that U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester), the House minority leader, bought dozens of stocks in December including shares in BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhilips and Occidental. Each of the stocks is valued between $15,001 and $50,000, according to annual financial disclosure reports released Wednesday.
Overall, more than 20 members of Congress own some BP stock including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
On Tuesday Kerry joined 20 other Democrats in voting against a bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would have eliminated $35 million in special tax breaks for oil companies. The measure failed 35-61.
Kerry has said he supports ending the tax breaks but wants it included in an energy and climate bill that Congress will vote on later this year so the money can be reallocated and used to pay for tax incentives for investments in clean energy research and technology.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP executive Tony Hayward during a congressional hearing today. Barton said the $20 billion escrow fund that BP promised to create after a meeting with President Obama was a "shakedown."
"I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown,” Barton said. “So I apologize.”
OpenSecrets.org has noted that the oil and gas industry has been the largest donor to Barton, giving him $1.5 million during his political career.
Afterward, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction.”
Last week Boehner briefly appeared to side with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, who suggested the federal government should bear some of the cost for cleaning BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After public backlash, Boehner claimed his remarks had been misunderstood.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) blasted Boehner, stating the news that he owns tens of thousands of dollars in oil company stock, including BP, raises questions about the Republican caucus’s response to efforts to hold BP accountable and ensure that a spill like the current one doesn’t occur again.
The DNC wants Boehner to use his clout to pressure the Republican caucus into supporting the $20 billion escrow account negotiated by Obama and to back lifting the liability cap on all oil companies in which he is an investor.