Reporters barred from listening to end of Biden fundraiser

Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he arrives to meet with with small business owners, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at Carlette’s Hideaway, a soul food restaurant, in Yeadon, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s presidential campaign wouldn’t let reporters listen to the end of an online fundraiser on Thursday during which he held a “virtual photo line” with investment managers, climate activists and other donors — the third time in recent weeks it has limited media access during such events.

The latest restriction came as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was holding the second gathering of “Climate Leaders for Biden,” which his campaign said was attended by 30 people. One of the co-hosts, Lise Strickler, a founding member of Three Cairns Group, said the event raised $4.4 million, exceeding the $4 million the group’s first virtual fundraiser took in on June 4.

A Biden virtual fundraiser on Monday hosted by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren raised $6 million, which the campaign said was its highest total to date.

“Climate Leaders for Biden is a rapidly growing group of donors who know that tackling climate change must be an urgent priority for our next president,” said Strickler, whose firm says it is committed to making investments in decarbonizing the world economy.

Co-hosting with her were Mark Gallogly, co-founder and managing principal of Centerbridge Partners L.P., and Larry Linden, founder and trustee of the Linden Trust for Conservation, as well as Dana Linden, a Linden Trust for Conservation trustee.

Biden has held virtual fundraisers several times a week amid the outbreak of the coronavirus. Typically, reporters are allowed to view the full proceedings via video chat. On Thursday, though, only a dial-in number was provided.

The former vice president spoke and answered questions for around 20 minutes, discussing how the election season had reached “go time” and arguing that the economic fallout of the pandemic created opportunities for thousands of new, well-paid “green” jobs in infrastructure and other fields. After that, organizers said they were transitioning to a virtual photo line, during which Biden had a chance to interact with “individual participants” and the call with journalists was terminated.

That was similar to the first “Climate Leaders for Biden” fundraiser on June 4, when reporters were allowed to dial in but had the connection cut ahead of a virtual photo line. During a virtual Biden fundraiser with Wall Street donors on May 21, meanwhile, reporters were permitted to dial in for a few minutes of Biden’s opening remarks before being dropped from the event ahead of the question-and-answer session.

Biden’s campaign suggested then such limits were “a new format as we enter a new phase of the general election campaign.” It argued that, even with such restrictions, it was still committed to transparency in a way that “vastly exceeds anything that Donald Trump and his campaign have offered.”

Trump generally does not allow press into his fundraisers, though he has occasionally done so. President Barack Obama also routinely had members of the media leave in-person fundraisers during the question-and-answer sessions.

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