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Said Kenneth Feinberg, appointed a short while ago by President Obama to oversee the $20 billion BP compensation fund:
Pledging his independence from the federal government and BP, Feinberg said he plans to establish a centralized claim center, beef up a staff of adjusters and be a constant, visible figure for Gulf Coast residents.
“This is an independent, private program,” he said. “I’m not beholden to the Obama administration. I’m not beholden to BP. I’m an independent administrator calling the shots as I see them.”
A New Orleans lawyer friend writes to say that the word on the street down there is somewhat different. He writes:
BP Fund $20B administrators Feinberg and Rozen, who handled the 911 Compensation Fund on a pro-bono basis, are reportedly traveling by BP-funded (or BP-owned) private jets, being paid by BP and refusing to disclose how they’re paid, what their incentives are, etc.
Local bar is up in arms. Consider: Feinberg’s a BP-paid lawyer, pretending to be neutral, acting with authority granted by the President, talking to spill victims and suggesting that they deal directly with him and not their own lawyers. At best, he’s on very thin ethical ice.
For cover, I’m sure he’s doing the work through a special-purpose company and not wearing his lawyer hat. But that hat-changing game doesn’t get you around the ethical rules.
These are allegations, not proven facts. If anybody can shed light on this, one way or another, check in.