Is Bernie Sanders Lying About Hillary Clinton? The Truth Often Gets Twisted In Politics
Hillary Clinton isn't known for angrily speaking off-the-cuff, but the Democratic candidate appeared to be taken aback when asked about her stance on climate change during an event Thursday afternoon. A formerly warm exchange between herself and a Greenpeace activist quickly turned heated when the candidate was asked about taking money from fossil fuel companies to finance her presidential campaign. Clinton immediately went on the defense and accused the Sanders campaign of lying about her policy issues. But is Bernie Sanders really lying about Clinton?
The contentious moment between Clinton and the Greenpeace activist took place at a Hillary Clinton rally at the SUNY Purchase campus in Westchester, New York. Though the Greenpeace activist originally approached Clinton to shake her hand and thank her for her work on environmental issues, the exchange turned bitter when Clinton was pressed on her ties to fossil fuel companies. The activist asked Clinton: "Will you act on your words and reject fossil fuel money in your campaign?"
Clinton's warm demeanor evaporated, jabbing her finger at the activist as she replied:
I do not have — I have money from people who work in the fossil fuel [industry]. I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me, I am sick of it.
This response comes on the heels of an increased level of attacks from the Sanders' campaign, who have upped their hostility toward the former secretary of state in recent months. Though the two were previously amiable, sharing the debate stage in mutual praise of one another, their relationship has continued to fall away as the two get closer and closer in the polls. Sanders was once considered a complete long shot, but through surprising upsets and a consistent record in the voting booth, the dark horse Vermont senator has left the Clinton campaign more anxious, and the Sanders team has responded in kind.
Given the increased amount of attacks, it begs the question: Is Sanders lying about Clinton and her policies? How does she rank in terms of the fossil fuel remark, as well as some of the other things Sanders has accused her of in recent months?
On the first point, the Clinton campaign's relationship with the fossil fuel industry has been murky. As per election law, her campaign is not allowed to take any money directly from corporations, and is thereby prohibited from receiving clear cut financing from oil or gas companies. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, her campaign has, however, taken in $268,000 in direct funds from people who work in the oil and gas sector. Because they are acting as individuals, these donations don't violate election law.
Her largest super PAC has likewise received $3.25 million from fossil fuel interests. The Sanders campaign, for their part, has received $35,000 in donations from people employed in the oil and gas sector this election cycle. But Sanders and his team were quick to remark on Clinton's fossil fuel outburst with a press release Thursday evening, stating:
The truth is that Secretary Clinton has relied heavily on funds from lobbyists working for the oil, gas and coal industry. ... It’s no wonder that back in December Clinton refused to agree to stop accepting money from the fossil fuel industry when pressed at a town hall, saying, ‘I’m not going to do a litmus test on them.’
The accusations from the Sanders campaign have not stopped there, however. Clinton has also come under fire recently for her position on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Though Clinton originally supported NAFTA, she has since changed her stance, saying that the trade agreement needs to be "adjusted."
But given how frequently Sanders brings up her stance on NAFTA during his stump speeches, you could easily get the impression that her opinion has not changed at all. At an Ohio rally earlier this month, Sanders told supporters: "I proudly stood with the workers! Secretary Clinton stood with the big money interests!" when discussing his opponent's views on NAFTA.
Another issue Sanders has frequently brought up is raising the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage has been a cornerstone of the Sanders campaign, and he has accused Clinton of not wanting the same for American workers.
There's a problem with the way Sanders typically talks about this issue, however. He often says Clinton does not want to raise the minimum wage, when in fact she does — but at $3 less at the federal level. Sanders advocates for a $15 minimum wage across the board. Clinton is shooting for a $12 federal minimum wage, and $15 for New York City and Los Angeles.
So in terms of the lies? It seems that Sanders typically stays within the ballpark of the truth when it comes to Clinton's campaign, so perhaps being "sick of all the lies" borders on the dramatic. Voters do, however, have Clinton's long career to consider, during which time she has certainly evolved positively on her positions. Her reaction Thursday most likely demonstrates a frustration in that Sanders often seems unwilling to acknowledge those changes.