Vitter Letter to Feinberg: Fulfill Promises or Remit Payment

February 17, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter today sent a letter to oil spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg calling on him to follow through on prior commitments to provide detailed information about the claims process, or else return a portion of the compensation he and his firm have received for working on Louisiana claims.

“I can only conclude that these town hall meetings were such a pure public relations exercise on your part – so devoid of substance and follow-up – that you and your staff didn’t even procure the names and contact information of the claimants you so earnestly promised to help,” Vitter wrote to Feinberg.

The text of Sen. Vitter’s letter today is below, and a copy of Feinberg’s February 7 letter is attached.

February 17, 2011

VIA EMAIL AND OVERNIGHT DELIVERY
IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUESTED

Ken Feinberg
Feinberg Rozen, LLP
The Willard Office Building
1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 390
Washington, DC 20004-1008

Dear Mr. Feinberg:

At our recent subcommittee hearing on January 27, I asked you to provide me as follow-up written case updates regarding the Louisiana citizens who stood up during your recent four Louisiana town hall meetings, in public and in front of television cameras, and said that their applications to you had been ignored or mishandled. You consistently told all of these applicants at the meetings that you would look into their cases and follow up with them. But as I explained at the hearing, in the spot checking I was able to do, three out of three had not been contacted by your office in any way in the weeks following the town halls.

When I made this reasonable, basic request for information at the hearing, you immediately agreed to provide it. However, you did not. (Again, a clear promise; no follow-up.)

As a result, my staff repeated the specific request by email to you on January 31. You responded by letter dated February 7, reversing your previous position, citing the confidentiality of the claims process, and refusing to provide the case updates.

Your new excuse seems a stretch to say the least: as noted above, the claimants in question attended a public meeting, stood up, identified themselves, and spoke before hundreds of people and a number of television cameras.

I can only conclude that these town hall meetings were such a pure public relations exercise on your part–so devoid of substance and follow-up–that you and your staff didn’t even procure the names and contact information of the claimants you so earnestly promised to help.

Again, I ask that you please provide me the updates as originally requested. I will not make public any claimant-specific information. If you insist, you can provide me the detailed written updates with the claimants’ first names and street addresses redacted.

If you cannot do so, it will be clear that your town hall meetings, with your promises of help and follow-up, were a sham. Since this was about 3 days of your work that month-12%* — I would ask you to remit 12% of you and your firm’s monthly compensation for claim work to the Friends of the Fisherman Fund for impacted fisherman, or a similar Louisiana based organization dedicated to helping our fishermen rebound. At your compensation rate of $850,000 per month, that would be $102,000. To be clear, this payment would be from you and your firm, not the compensation fund.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

David Vitter

* Assumes six-day work week, excluding January 1.

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