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'No Fossil Fuel Money!': Protests Outside Big-Money Fundraiser for Biden Co-Hosted by Natural Gas Executive

"Biden can't expect to convince Americans that he's a leader on climate if he's also cozying up to fossil fuel power players."

Demonstrators gathered in New York as former Vice President Joe Biden attended a high-dollar fundraiser co-hosted by the co-founder of a natural gas company on September 5, 2019. (Photo: Food & Water Action/Twitter)

Dozens of environmentalists gathered outside the New York home of investment banker David Solomon on Thursday to protest former Vice President Joe Biden's decision to attend a fundraiser there, despite calls for the 2020 candidate to cancel the event following news of the co-host's deep ties to the fossil fuel industry.

"Biden can't expect to convince Americans that he's a leader on climate if he's also cozying up to fossil fuel power players," said Laura Shindell, an organizer with Food & Water Action who participated in Thursday's demonstration.

Ahead of the $2,800-per-ticket fundraiser, protesters led chants of "No fossil fuel money!" and "Biden, Biden, you can't hide, we can see your greedy side!"

The high-dollar fundraiser came just 24 hours after Biden participated in a CNN presidential forum on the climate crisis, during which an activist directly confronted the former vice president over the event with Andrew Goldman, co-founder of natural gas company Western LNG.

In response to criticism, the Biden campaign denied that Goldman fits the definition of a fossil fuel executive and said the former vice president is not violating the No Fossil Fuel money pledge, which is a vow "not to take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, and PACs."

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During the swanky event Thursday night, Biden continued to insist he is not taking fossil fuel cash, claiming there was a "mild misrepresentation" during the CNN climate town hall.

"I just want to be very clear to everyone here: I am committed to not raising money from fossil fuel executives and I am not doing that tonight," Biden said. "Climate change presents an existential threat, and it is real."

The former vice president also acknowledged the scrutiny the event has drawn. "Folks, I know there's been a lot of attention paid to you showing up tonight," Biden said. "More than I think you anticipated."

Journalists and observers have challenged the Biden campaign's efforts to downplay Goldman's role in the fossil fuel industry, pointing to documents that describe him as a current member of the Western LNG leadership team and "a long-term investor in the liquefied natural gas sector."

 Sam Bernherdt, an organizer with Food & Water Action, told the New York Daily News that Biden "knows where this money is coming from."

"We got a decade to solve the climate crisis," said Bernherdt. "Biden has shown that he can't do that by holding events like this."

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