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
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
We must raise $75,000 during our Winter Campaign. Can you help?
The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.
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."