Pelosi: BP Should Suspend Ads as Well as Dividends Until Claims are Paid
June 11, 2010House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday morning that BP should stop paying for advertising that says it is going to pay claims in the Gulf and also stop paying out corporate dividends until it in fact pays claims to families and business affected by the Gulf oil spill.
Later in the day, the BBC reported that BP was in fact planning to suspend its dividend, a matter which will be discussed at a meeting of the company’s directors on Monday. BP was set to announce its second quarter dividend on July 27, when it releases its earnings report. According to the Associated Press, the company has paid a steady 14 cent per share dividend since July 2008, and that that dividend pay out is worth a total of about $10 billion.
“But I think their responsibility, before they spend all this money on advertising saying how they’re going to pay every claim, they should pay the claims,” said Pelosi. “And they should do that before they go forward with additional dividends.”
The ads Pelosi referred to feature BP CEO Tony Hayward saying, “We will honor all legitimate claims,” and also: “We will get this done. We will make this right.”
Transcript of Pelosi’s remarks on BP dividend and advertising:
Question: Do you think BP should suspend or not pay dividends at all?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.): What I have said is their responsibility is first, right now, to these families in the region who have lost their jobs, their businesses, their livelihood. If you are a shrimper or fisherman or something, May and June are your big months in the Gulf.
And so there, under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990--and if you’d like me to read it to you, I can--but you probably want to read it for yourself. Do I have it here? They have a responsibility to pay these people, and they’ve got to do it in a timely fashion.
And again, an expression in appropriations which you’ve heard me use before, “The plural of anecdote is not data.” But there are enough anecdotal stories and empirical knowledge about what is happening there that says they are not responding quickly enough. That’s why I was so pleased that the Department of Homeland Security and BP came to an understanding in that they would expedite this.
But I think we have to watch it very closely. But I think their responsibility, before they spend all this money on advertising saying how they’re going to pay every claim, they should pay the claims. And they should do that before they go forward with additional dividends."