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!"
— New York Communities for Change (@nychange) September 5, 2019
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."
Let's be clear. The rules of the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge are there to help candidates stay in compliance. They are *NOT* there to help candidates weasel out of it. This from @JoeBiden at #ClimateTownHall feels very much like that latter. And that's...not a good look.
— David Turnbull (@david_turnbull) September 5, 2019
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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."
Joe Biden insisted at a campaign fundraiser Thursday night that he doesn’t take political cash from the fossil fuel industry — but he didn’t explain how that squared with the event’s co-host being a co-founder of a natural gas company.https://t.co/IOO3e8lGAw
— Chris Sommerfeldt (@C_Sommerfeldt) September 6, 2019
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."