First Draft: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Spar Over Fossil Fuel Donations

First Draft: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Spar Over Fossil Fuel Donations

- in Politics

Updated, 12:49 p.m. | A day after Hillary Clinton said she was “sick of the Sanders campaign lying” about her taking money from the fossil fuel industry, Senator Bernie Sanders and his campaign manager are pushing back against the accusation.

Mr. Sanders told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that Mrs. Clinton has taken large amounts of money from the fossil fuel industry, repeating an attack that he regularly makes at campaign events. Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, also issued a statement doubling down on the criticism. However, Mrs. Clinton and her campaign insist that while she has received donations from individuals who work in the oil and gas industry, she has not taken them from the fossil fuel industry.

“The fact of the matter is Secretary Clinton has taken significant money from the fossil fuel industry. She raises her money with a ‘super PAC,’” Mr. Sanders said. “She gets a lot of money from Wall Street, from the drug companies and fossil fuel industry.”

The back and forth began Thursday when, at an event in Purchase, N.Y., an environmental activist with Greenpeace USA asked Mrs. Clinton to pledge to reject fossil fuel contributions. Mrs. Clinton tersely responded, saying: “I am so sick — I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I am sick of it.”

Later, her campaign addressed the issue.

“The simple truth is that this campaign has not taken a dollar from oil and gas industry PACs or corporations,” Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said in a statement. “The simple fact is that the Sanders campaign is misleading voters with their attacks. The money in question is from individuals who work for these companies.”

The issue has bubbled up as Mrs. Clinton faces a spirited challenge from Mr. Sanders in New York State, which holds its primary on April 19. Polls have shown Mr. Clinton with a comfortable lead in the state, but Mr. Sanders was able to draw thousands of people to a rally in the Bronx Thursday night and his campaign is preparing to spend heavily on ads in New York as it tries to embarass Mrs. Clinton in her home state, which she represented in Congress for eight years.

And as the contest turns to Northeastern states over the next month, environmental issues are likely to have greater resonance.

Mr. Weaver of the Sanders campaign said in a statement that it was “disappointing” that Mrs. Clinton has accused Mr. Sanders’s staff of lying on the issue of fossil fuel industry donations.

“Fifty-seven lobbyists from the industry have personally given to her campaign and 11 of those lobbyists have bundled more than $1 million to help put her in the White House,” he said. “If you include money given to super PACs backing Clinton, the fossil fuel industry has given more than $4.5 million in support of Clinton’s bid.”

He said Mr. Sanders believes “you cannot take on an industry if you take their money.”

“If the Clinton campaign wants to argue that industry lobbyists giving thousands of dollars to her campaign won’t affect her decisions if she’s elected, that’s fine,” Mr. Weaver said. “But to call us liars for pointing out basic facts about the secretary’s fund-raising is deeply cynical and very disappointing.”

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