Saturday, June 19, 2010
Just when it seemed Gulf residents couldn't get any more outraged about the massive oil spill fouling their coastline, word came Saturday that BP's CEO was taking time off to attend a glitzy yacht race in England.
BP officials on Saturday scrambled yet again to respond to another public relations mess when their embattled chief executive, Tony Hayward, spent the day off the coast of England watching his yacht compete in one of the world’s largest races.
Two days after Mr. Hayward angered lawmakers on Capitol Hill with his refusal to provide details during testimony about the worst offshore oil spill in United States history, and one day after BP’s chairman said the chief executive would not be as involved in daily operations in the gulf, Mr. Hayward sparked new controversy from afar.
“He is having some rare private time with his son,” a BP spokeswoman, Sheila Williams, said in a telephone interview on Saturday.
But Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who taped an interview for ABC’s “This Week,” called Mr. Hayward’s attendance at the race “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes” that he has made.
“To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Mr. Emanuel said.
On May 31, six weeks after the spill began, Mr. Hayward uttered “I’d like my life back,” a comment that struck many in the gulf region as insensitive, and for which he eventually apologized.
On Saturday, Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, called Mr. Hayward’s yacht outing the “height of arrogance,” in an interview with Fox News.
“I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil,” Mr. Shelby said. “He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on. Not in a cocoon somewhere.”
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