Here’s a “Shock”: Both Clinton and Sanders are Misleading About Fossil Fuel Money, NY Debate

Here’s some “breaking news” for everyone, politicians are often misleading – all politicians. As infatuated as some people get over some of our elected officials (or anyone running for office for that matter), the truth is, they’re all liars to some extent. While some politicians lie much more than others (I’m looking at you Donald Trump and Ted Cruz), none of them have overly immaculate records when it comes to being completely honest to the American people.

In fact, a quick trip over to Politifact will show you that when it comes to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, despite what many on either side might think, they’re both essentially just as “honest” or “dishonest,” depending on how you want to look at it.

Here are their scorecards:

Hillary Clinton:

True/Mostly True/Half True: 72%

False/Mostly False/Pants on Fire: 28%

Bernie Sanders:

True/Mostly True/Half True: 71%

False/Mostly False/Pants on Fire: 29%

Like I said, no matter what supporters for one candidate might think about the other candidate, the facts are that they’re both just about even when it comes to telling the truth, exaggerating the truth or lying.

So it really shouldn’t come as a shock to find out that when it comes to the recent dust-ups over allegations about how much money Clinton has received from the fossil fuel industry, or the potential for another debate before the New York primary, both candidates are misleading voters.

On the fossil fuel issue, Clinton is right when she says that the Sanders campaign has been lying – at least somewhat. Like with many political lies, it’s all about the exact wording vs. what the statement is trying to imply.

Sanders is correct when he says Clinton has received money from employees who work for the fossil fuel industry – some who’ve even been employed as lobbyists. However, as stated, her campaign isn’t receiving any money from fossil fuel companies themselves (because that’s illegal) or PACs tied to the oil-and-gas industry:

These employees could be executives or merely rank-and-file employees of an oil or gas company. Although the tally includes PAC donations, no PACs tied to the oil and gas industry have donated to the Clinton 2016 campaign.

Not only that, but as an NPR fact-check noted, her campaign hasn’t exactly relied “heavily” on these donations, as Sanders has said she has:

The oil and gas money is two-tenths of 1 percent of Clinton’s $159.9 million overall fundraising.

For the record, the Clinton campaign has received around $307k from oil and gas industry employees – not the corporations themselves. Because, again – that’s illegal.

See, that’s how donations are lumped together by sites like Open Secrets. When you’re an employee of Bank of America, Exxon or even Microsoft, when you donate, that’s the industry that they put you in. When you see these lists, those aren’t the companies themselves giving that amount of money to these campaigns, it’s employees of those companies.

Though here’s a “fun fact,” Bernie Sanders has received more than $50k from oil-and-gas related donations. So while Clinton has received quite a bit more, it’s not as if his hands are completely clean of donations from the fossil fuel industry.

So, Clinton has received money from people aligned with the oil and gas industry, but she hasn’t received any money related to PACs linked to the fossil fuel industry. That’s what I’m assuming she was probably implying when she made her infamous statement to Greenpeace. Though because she didn’t specifically say that, her statement is somewhat misleading.

But for the Sanders campaign to say she’s relied “heavily upon it” is a flat-out lie. It’s also dishonest for Bernie Sanders to suggest (which he’s clearly trying to do) that she’s being backed by groups linked to these fossil fuel companies. Because she’s not.

As for the New York debate nonsense, this is typical Political Gamesmanship 101.

Despite what many of his supporters think, Bernie Sanders has shaped a lot of his campaign as “I’m fighting a machine,” which, in turn, has led to him playing the “victim” card on several occasions. Not that there’s really anything wrong or unique about that – he’s an underdog, it’s a fairly common tactic. So when he pushed for a debate in New York before the primary, his campaign instantly knew they were going to make this into an issue to try to attack Clinton. That’s why they went directly to her campaign to request the debate instead of to the party itself, like they should have done.

Then Clinton’s campaign responded poorly, laughably going after Sanders’ “tone.” This was an extremely sad attempt by her campaign trying to establish some sort of “dominance” over the Sanders camp. This wasn’t Clinton truly being worried about Sanders’ “tone,” it was her campaign issuing a response to his request in a very poor and kind of sad way.

Naturally, the Sanders campaign ran with this, as they should have. Though the truth of the matter is, the whole situation was incredibly idiotic.

Bernie Sanders clearly wanted to use this push for a debate to attack Hillary Clinton. Even when you get right down to why he wants another debate, it’s to attack Clinton on a national stage. This isn’t about “debating the issues.” By now most people know where each candidate stands on the issues. What Sanders wants is another chance to use his attack lines against Clinton prior to a vital primary election. It’s an understandable tactic, but anyone who believes he wants this debate to “talk about the issues” is fooling themselves.

Not only that, but Clinton’s campaign has given him three dates for the debate – and his campaign has rejected all three.

The first was April 4th, this Monday, just before the Wisconsin primary. His campaign rejected that idea based on the NCAA National Championship game that’s on that evening. Okay, that much I get. While I understand why the debate being the night before the Wisconsin primary made some sense, I also understand why he wouldn’t want it on a night where a good chunk of the country might be watching a championship game.

But April 14th or 15th? That’s the Thursday or Friday before the New York primary – why reject those days?

That’s a rhetorical question, because I know why: To keep making this an issue for a little while longer to play up the “Clinton doesn’t want to debate me” line he’s been using for the last week or so. Because there’s nothing wrong with having it on April 14th or 15th. If you want to say that the 15th being a Friday is a bad day, fine, then have it on that Thursday.

But if he agreed to that Thursday debate now, then he couldn’t play this issue up for a little while longer, trying to make Clinton seem like the “cowardly villain who doesn’t want to debate him” – especially heading into the Wisconsin primary.

Which is partly what this is about because Sanders knows that Clinton will agree to another debate. Not only have these debates really not mattered a great deal overall, but it would be politically foolish for her not to agree to one heading into a crucial stretch of northeastern states.

This is textbook political b.s.

So, for those trying to make both of these situations into something more than what they are – relax. Because both candidates are doing what politicians love doing, cherry picking the information they want to push to make themselves look good and their opponent look bad.

When you get right down to it, all this rhetoric is nothing more than Politics 101.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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