Mississippi attorney general hopes audit in best interests of Gulf oil spill victims
JACKSON, Mississippi — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says he hopes an audit to be performed on the $20 billion fund set up to compensate victims of last year’s BP oil spill is in the best interests of Gulf Coast residents.
Hood’s comment came today, one day after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the audit in a letter to the fund’s administrator, Kenneth Feinberg. Holder stressed that the goal is to balance the need for resolving claims quickly and fairly along with the need to start an audit before the end of the year.
Holder said the fund’s “highest priority” should be to achieve speed and fairness.
Holder made a June 30 trip to the Gulf Coast in which he heard concerns from Alabama officials and residents about the transparency of the claims process.
On July 13, Hood sued Feinberg to get access to claims filed by coastal residents. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled in Hinds County Chancery Court on Sept. 15.
“It is a shame we had to file a lawsuit to try to force Mr. Feinberg to do the right thing,” Hood said in a statement Thursday. “I plan to speak with U.S. Attorney General Holder to ensure this audit is truly independent and in the best interest of the residents of our Gulf Coast.”
To date, the fund has paid $4.7 billion to 198,475 claimants. The total number who have sought money stands at 522,506, many with multiple claims. In all, the fund has nearly 1 million claims and continues to receive thousands of claims each week.
Hood said he resorted to the lawsuit because his office’s attempts to get access to the documents on Mississippi claims failed. He did say BP and Feinberg have responded with some documents but not everything requested.