John Fetterman(l+r), John Fetterman filming woman talking(c)

‘Got a taste of that corrupt Senator money’: Fetterman stirs backlash after mocking climate activist on video

'Why the change of heart?'


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on May 15, 2024

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) was seen mocking and evading questions from a constituent in a viral video posted this week by the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots climate justice organization. The interaction has led to widespread backlash from progressives online.

Fetterman has been accused of flip-flopping on energy and climate policies—and some see his past support for the Sunrise Movement and current ridicule of the group as further proof of that shift.

In a video posted on X and TikTok yesterday but filmed last week, a constituent from Chester County, Pennsylvania, questioned Fetterman on his criticism of President Joe Biden’s liquefied gas pause, which the Biden Administration spearheaded to shield those living in areas that export the gas from the pollution it creates.

The constituent mentioned oil pipelines being built in Chester County, which Fetterman protested alongside the Sunrise Movement in 2018. As shown in the video, Fetterman filmed her as she spoke and sarcastically said “Oh, I didn’t expect this,” after she greeted him.

“Why the change of heart?” the constituent asked. “Why aren’t you standing with [the] people of Pennsylvania right now?”

Fetterman quickly ducked into an elevator. Its doors closed as he began to answer the constituent’s questions.

@sunrisemvmt @John Fetterman ♬ original sound – Sunrise Movement

His behavior is starkly different from his reaction to meeting members of the Sunrise Movement at the 2018 pipeline protest, which he posted about on Facebook at the time.

“OMG star-struck fan boy moment with Rose Strauss at the #YoungAndNaive rally,” Fetterman wrote. Strauss is a climate change activist who made headlines for her organizing on behalf of the Sunrise Movement as a teen.

In a statement to the Daily Dot, the Sunrise Movement’s communications director Steve O’Hanlan said that Fetterman is “more concerned with pleasing his billionaire donors than protecting the people of Pennsylvania who have pipelines and fracking wells being built in our backyards.” Fracking is the process of extracting oil and natural grass from underground.

“His flip-flopping is disgraceful and is why so many people, especially young people, feel so pessimistic about politics,” O’Hanlan added.

Others online said Fetterman’s behavior in the video—and as a Senator—is a disappointment.

“So disappointed in Fetterman,” a TikTok user commented on the Sunrise Movement’s video on the platform. “I was a strong supporter of his and thought he’d be a progressive senator.”

“@SenFettermanPA got a taste of that corrupt senator money and is now a completely different person than that which was elected,” an X user replied to the organization’s video.

Fetterman said in 2018 that he didn’t support fracking and he “never” had—but four years later, he said he “always supported” fracking. In 2023, Pennsylvania experienced a “fracking boom.”

His campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

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*First Published: May 15, 2024, 11:04 am CDT