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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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NYC Mayor Defends Clinton on Donations

(CN) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio played defense for the Hillary Clinton campaign on Friday afternoon, staunchly rejecting assertions she's in the pocket of the oil and gas industry.

"I've known Hillary Clinton since 1999 and know her as someone who fights for what she believes in," de Blasio said during a briefing with reporters.

"The allegations now being made that's she's somehow beholden to the fossil fuel industry just don't hold water," he said. "This attack is not becoming of Sen. [Bernie] Sanders and I think we should just get back to the issues."

De Blasio's news conference on behalf of the campaign, announced just a half hour before it started, came a day after the Clinton got into a heated exchange with a climate activist on a rope line during a campaign event, and said she was "so sick of the Sanders campaign lying" about donations she's purportedly received from oil and coal companies and their lobbyists.

Eva Resnick-Day, the Greenpeace activist who got in the verbal tussle with Clinton, had asked the Democratic presidential frontrunner "Will you act on your word to reject fossil fuel money in the future in your campaign?"

As captured in a video Greenpeace USA immediately posted on YouTube, Clinton answered Resnick-Day's question in a straight-forward manner. But when the activist followed up by asking if the candidate would also reject money from registered lobbyists, the candidate flared back at her.

"I'm so sick," she said.

"I'm so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about this. I'm sick of it."

On Friday morning, Jeff Weaver, the Vermont senator's campaign manager, issued a statement in which he said "it is disappointing that Secretary Clinton has leveled an accusation that just isn't true."

"It's very clear from research done by Greenpeace that she's not just receiving money from 'individuals' who happen to work in the oil, coal and gas industry," Weaver continued. "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.

"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.

"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," Weaver added. "But to call us liars for pointing out basic facts about the secretary's fundraising is deeply cynical and very disappointing."

de Blasio said he didn't know exactly how much Clinton has received from those employed by the fossil fuel industry or its lobbyists, but insisted its "hundreds of thousands of dollars" out of the hundreds of millions raised to wage the presidential campaign.

The mayor then changed gears and began talking about critical points in Clinton's public career, including her effort as first lady to get the 1993 healthcare reform package passed.

"She was unyielding and unafraid no matter what [her critics] threw at her and that is the nature of the person," de Blasio said.

"There is no question of her commitment to fighting climate change and any suggestion that she is in anyone's pocket is flat out false and inappropriate," he said.


The mayor said when Clinton represented New York in the U.S. Senate she supported legislation to expand the use of renewable energy, and "she fought on many fronts to fix the inbalance of government support for fossil fuel [compared] with that provided renewable energy."

de Blasio also credited Clinton, as secretary of state, with laying the groundwork for the breakthrough international climate change agreement signed in Paris last December.

On Thursday, coincidentally, the White House announced that the U.S. and China will formally sign on to the agreement on April 22.

"Her work was critical to their being able to move China and India and Brazil ... and secure the climate change agreement," de Blasio said.

"This whole election comes down to not only the values and ideas this country needs ... it's about the ability to get the vision done," he said. "Hillary is being quite sharp in her platform that the tax breaks to fossil fuel companies have to end, and her focus is on renewable energy and the job creation that will go along with getting 500 million solar panels installed [across the U.S.].

"That's an extraordinary and important goal," the mayor said.

The Sanders campaign was unbowed, however, sending out a lengthy release within an hour of de Blasio's remarks that it said shows the true extent of Clinton's support from the fossil fuel energy.

"According to the most recent filings," the Sanders campaign said, "Clinton's campaign committee has received $309,107 from such donors."

In attributed that information to as a March 21, 2016 analysis by the independent Center for Responsive Politics.

"Next are the fossil fuel lobbyists, many of whom have also bundled contributions. These donations also flow to Clinton's campaign committee," the Sanders campaign said. "Greenpeace has tracked $1,465,610 in bundled and direct donations from lobbyists currently registered as lobbying for the fossil fuel industry. This number excludes donations from lobbyists who are employed directly by a fossil fuel companies, as those donations would have been included in the previous number."

"Last are contributions from fossil fuel interests to Super PACs supporting Hillary Clinton," the Sanders campaign said." Greenpeace has found $3,250,000 in donations from large donors connected to the fossil fuel industry to Priorities Action USA, a Super PAC supporting Secretary Clinton's campaign."

Asked whether Sanders' campaign has become toxic and whether it would better for the Democratic party if he stepped aside, de Blasio said, " I never tell candidates what to do and the choices they should make about their own lives."

"I will say this, to date the debate on the Democratic side has been substantive and it has been about real issues," the mayor said. "The juxtaposition between the Democratic debates and the Republican debates are probably the most extreme I have seen in my lifetime."

de Blasio said the Sanders campaign's attacks on Clinton in recent days undercut "what I presume he's trying to get across."

"I think we should get back to the issues," the mayor said. "Democrats have had a lot to be proud of ... I've met plenty of Sanders supporters who appreciate what's good about Hillary Clinton, and Clinton supporters who appreciate what's good about Sen. Sanders."

"That's how it's proceeded," de Blasio said. "Yes there have been moments of tension ... but up to now this discussion has been a credit to the party. It should remain that way. It should not diverge from that."

Returning to the question of whether Sanders should suspend his campaign, the mayor said he "needs to make his own decision.

"But whatever he chooses to do, I think people appreciate him when most when he's a substantive voice and a voice of integrity," de Blasio said.

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