When it comes to the 2016 presidential primary, the Democratic side has proven so far to be tamer in terms of campaign rhetoric and inflammatory remarks. Things have taken a sudden turn however with some heated exchanges between the Clinton and Sanders campaign over support received from fossil fuel companies.
Hillary Clinton has accused the Sanders campaign of "misleading voters" by suggesting that contributions from employees of fossil fuel companies are equivalent to contributions by the companies themselves. Clinton insists that the money comes from company employees, who are free to make up their own mind, politically.
The Sanders campaign fired back saying that Clinton "relies heavily on funds from lobbyists working for the oil, gas and coal industry". Others have also suggested that the individual contributions received by the Clinton campaign have been from high-level fossil fuel executives, who may have been advised to give to Clinton as a way to advance the company's interests.
So what does the data say about all this?
The majority of Clinton's "fossil fuel" money comes from two donors: Donald Sussman, of Paloma Partners, and David Shaw, of D.E. Shaw research, both lobbyists who have represented the interests of fossil fuel companies. Sussman and Shaw made contributions to Super PACs supporting Hillary Clinton.
When we look strictly at direct contributions, Clinton still leads Sanders historically, having received $910K from employees of fossil fuel companies ($386K of it in 2016), while Sanders received $93K. Sanders' charge of 'high-level executives' supporting Clinton does pan out however; the majority of Clinton's money comes from people who declared themselves to be an 'executive', 'president', 'CEO' or 'chairman' of a fossil fuel company.
So it really depends on one's interpretation of things: does a lobbyist who represents a fossil fuel company, among several other clients, count as "fossil fuel money"? If so, then Clinton is by far the biggest recipient of that industry. If we decide that only direct donations from company employees should count, then Clinton leads Sanders by just $386K to $93K.
If we decide that only money coming from the fossil fuel companies' corporate PACs should count, then neither candidate has received any money from the industry. Both candidates would then be, theoretically, completely immune to the influence of one of the most powerful and wealthy sectors in the country. Yeah right.
So where does one draw the line? Your guess is as good as ours. And if you believe, as we do, that money in politics talks, then you can make yourself heard by clicking below.