One of the most insidious attacks against Hillary is Bernie’s false assertion that she has received money directly from corporations.
Following an event in New York, Hillary Clinton was working the crowd when someone asked her if she “will act on your word to reject fossil fuel money in the future in your campaign.”
She was not pleased, responding: “I do not have— I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick— I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it.”
One can hardly blame her. Bernie, his staff, his surrogates, and his supporters routinely accuse Hillary of accepting money from fossil fuel companies, along with every other industry they find objectionable. But what they are alleging isn’t even legal. Accepting direct contributions from corporations is a violation of campaign law.
The contributions to which Bernie et al are referring are primarily individual contributions made by employees of fossil fuel companies, financial firms, etc.
OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign contributions, lists Hillary’s top contributors by organization, with an emphasized footer reading:
“This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2016 cycle. The money came from the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families. At the federal level, the organizations themselves did not donate, as they are prohibited by law from doing so.“
It is, bluntly, utterly mendacious to say or imply that Hillary has received campaign contributions from corporations. The donations have come from employees.
Surely, Bernie Sanders—who just earlier today was boasting on Twitter about having a good chance of reaching his fundraising goal of $43.5 million—believes that voters have a right to participate in the electoral process via donations. So is his argument, given that Hillary is receiving many of her “fossil fuel donations” from employees of fossil fuel companies, that only voters who work for companies that he deems pure by some arbitrary standard should be allowed to contribute?
That would be absurd. It certainly is not his argument. Frankly, he doesn’t even have an argument. What he has is innuendo, based on demonizing employees of industries progressives tend not to like, and obfuscating about campaign finance laws.
He trusts that most people won’t know that the contributions come from individual employees. And that is precisely why the attack works.
It’s also why Hillary is so sick of the attack. It has no basis in reality; it’s a smear by insinuation.
Bernie swore that he would not run a negative campaign, but this is not only negative; it’s trading on ignorance about the very system he says is broken. On the one hand, he decries the corruption and brokenness of our political system; on the other hand, he leverages its corruption and brokenness in order to make untruthful attacks on his opponent.
This is not the sort of campaign I expected and hoped to see from Bernie Sanders.
Oh, and, by the way, in case you’re curious: Bernie has received $203,885 in donations from energy industry employees.
[NOTE: Updated to clarify that Hillary has taken no money from PACs. We assume that is the case for Bernie’s $203K from people associated with the energy industry.]