Barton Plans Gulf Fishing Fundraiser

| Thu Jun. 17, 2010 4:00 PM EDT

In the wake of Rep. Joe Barton's public apology to BP (since walked back), the Sunlight Foundation notes that the Texas Republican is gearing up for his 7th Annual Barton Family Fishing Trip & Florida Flats Fishing Tournament in the Flordia Keys in October. Don't be fooled by the name—the event is a $5,000-a-head fundraiser for Barton's political action committee. The oil spill may or may not ruin the party—it hasn't hit the Keys yet, though the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current appears to be carrying it that way. But the BP disaster is already having an impact on the islands' economy—impacts that the $20 billion BP fund Barton decried as a "slush fund" are supposed to help offset.

For some perspective from the Keys, MoJo's Josh Harkinson called up Brett Greco, a fishing guide who works there for the first half of the year. "It just seems like a matter of time before [the oil] does get here," he said, adding that the hotel and fishing-trip cancellations are adding up. "We're talking about a tough business to begin with in a really weak economy, and then they get the oil on top of that. You're talking about a lot of captains about to lose their livelihood." Asked about Rep. Barton's comments this morning, he said, "It sounds like an oil man just backing another oil man." And what if Barton and his extended "family" show up in October and want to hire his colleagues for a day on the water? "In their heart, they may want to tell this guy to disappear or take a walk," Greco said. "But when it comes down to dollars and cents, if it’s two or three days of fishing, that’s money they can’t say no to, unfortunately."