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FACT CHECK: Hillary Clinton And Donations From Fossil Fuel Industries

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at SUNY Purchase on Thursday in Purchase, New York.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at SUNY Purchase on Thursday in Purchase, New York.

It was a rare moment on the campaign trail with the normally calm and collected Hillary Clinton: At a rally at a college campus in New York, Clinton can be seen on video chewing out a Greenpeace activist who challenged her over "fossil fuel money in your campaign." It's hardly the first time Clinton has heard this, with its implication that dirty energy has got her on a string.

Campaign finance data suggest it wouldn't be much of a string.

Still, the video was enough for the campaign of her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to pounce on Clinton. "The truth is that Secretary Clinton has relied heavily on funds from lobbyists working for the oil, gas and coal industry," said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs.

The Center for Responsive Politics, parsing Federal Election Commission reports, finds that workers in the oil and gas industries have given Clinton $307,561 so far — compared to, say, $21 million from the securities and investment industry, or $14.4 million from lawyers and law firms.

Put another way, the oil and gas money is two-tenths of 1 percent of Clinton's $159.9 million overall fundraising. It roughly equals the amount Sanders raised every 16 hours in the first quarter of 2016.

The Sanders campaign has relied primarily on small donors, although it, too, lists more than $50,000 in oil- and gas-related donations.

On the Republican side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has received more than $1 million in donations from employees of the oil and gas industry, while Donald Trump, who's relying on small donors and his own fortune to fund his campaign, drew just $10,000 from individuals tied to the fossil fuel business.

The industry total here doesn't include lobbyists with fossil-fuel clients, and it doesn't do what the Republican opposition research group America Rising did: include corporate money to the Clinton Foundation. The presidential campaign cannot raise corporate money.

Behind the questions to Clinton is a pledge "to refuse money from fossil fuel interests," which Greenpeace and other progressive groups want the candidates to sign. Sanders did so when it was announced in January.

In an analysis last December, FactCheck.org didn't rate the issue of Clinton's fossil fuel funds, but it didn't get very excited about it either. The analysis also looked back at her Senate campaign, where the industry contributions were equally paltry.

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