Environmental Group Urges Joe Biden to Cancel Fundraiser with Oil Executive

BURLINGTON, IA - AUGUST 07: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about White Nationalism during a campaign press conference on August 7, 2019 in Burlington, Iowa. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
Tom Brenner/Getty Images

A top environmentalist group is urging former Vice President Joe Biden to cancel a high-profile Wall Street fundraiser hosted by a fossil fuel executive.

The Sunrise Movement, one of the premier climate change groups advocating liberal policies like the Green New Deal, issued a statement calling on Biden to cancel a $2,800-a-head fundraiser scheduled for Thursday to be hosted by Andrew Goldman, the founder of a natural gas production company.

“If Biden is serious about taking on the power of the fossil fuel lobby, why is he going to a fundraiser hosted by the co-founder of a natural gas company?” Varshini Prakash, the group’s president executive director, asked. “We know how this works: Fossil fuel millionaires drive us towards an uninhabitable future, then host fundraisers and expect the next president to take their advice on policy.”

Prakash added such tactics in the past had contributed to the status quo.

“That corruption got us into the crisis our world faces today,” she said. “And that corruption needs to end if we’re going to have chance at securing a livable future.”

As CNBC reported, Biden is scheduled to appear at two New York City fundraisers hosted by top Wall Street executives with ties to oil and gas interests on Thursday.

One of the fundraisers will be hosted by Jack Rosen, the CEO of Rosen Partners LLC and well known Democrat mega donor. Rosen also has business ties to Mikhail Fridman, a Russian oligarch who controls one of his country’s largest privately-owned financial consortiums. Fridman is known for making his multibillion dollar fortune from telecommunications as well as oil and gas interests.

The second fundraiser will be hosted by Goldman and David F. Solomon, an investment banker who runs the private equity giant Hildred Capital Partners. As the Intercept noted, Goldman, a one-time aide to Biden, is the co-founder of a Texas-based natural gas production company called Western LNG.

“Western’s major project is a floating production facility off the northern coast of British Columbia designed to provide Canadian gas to markets in northeast Asia,” the outlet reported.

According to the Sunrise Movement, the fundraiser organized by Goldman “clearly violates the spirit of the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” Biden signed in June. The pledge, a byproduct of the liberal group Oil Change USA, has become an environmental litmus test for Democrat presidential candidates and other elected officials. By signing, Biden promised to refuse campaign donations totaling more than $200 from executives, PACs, and lobbyists representing companies “whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Biden defended both his decision to attend the fundraisers and his relationship with Goldman when pushed on the topic at CNN’s climate change town hall on Wednesday. The former vice president claimed it wasn’t fair to characterize Goldman as a “fossil fuel executive,” saying he no longer had anything to do with Western LNG.

“He’s not a fossil fuel executive, I’m told,” Biden said, arguing no one could question his commitment to fighting climate change. “The fact of the matter is…I’ve argued and pushed for us suing those executives, who are engaged in pollution, those companies that are engaged in pollution.”

When pushed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the extent of Goldman’s ties to Western LNG as well as the oil and gas industry, Biden said he would reconsider the fundraiser if the record was “accurate.”

For some environmental activists, like Prakash and the Sunrise Movement, however, that was not good enough.

“If Biden wants to be taken seriously on climate change, he needs to cancel this fundraiser,” Prakash said on Wednesday.

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