Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) on Monday repeatedly deflected questions about an upcoming fundraiser with a top executive at Pfizer, a pharmaceutical corporation, where tickets will cost $1,000 to $2,700.
Gillibrand, who announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee in mid-January, appeared on Fox News' "Special Report" where host Chris Wallace pressed her on an upcoming fundraiser at the end of March with Sally Susman, Pfizer's executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer. Wallace mentioned how Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) announced earlier in the day that her campaign would not hold any events where voters are excluded because they cannot afford the ticket prices.
"Is Warren right that access to candidates is for sale?" Wallace asked.
"No, but I think that you need to get money out of politics. The most important thing we have to do is up-end the way our democracy functions," Gillibrand said. "Today the wealthiest, most powerful lobbyist and special interest groups get to write bills in the dead of night."
Wallace interjected to ask Gillibrand to answer his "one question," prompting her to push back and tell him to let her finish the point she was making.
"$2,700," Wallace laughingly repeated. When Gillibrand continued to trail off, Wallace reminded her that a drug executive is hosting the fundraiser.
"And who's a dear friend who I've known for years and years who believes in my gay rights platform and believes in women's rights," Gillibrand said.
"What about the $2,700 ticket?" Wallace asked.
"Let me finish. What's wrong with Washington is there is so much corruption. So much corruption, so much greed," Gillibrand said. "We can't actually pass common sense gun reform in this country, not because the American people aren't behind it, because they are, but the NRA is more worried about gun sales than they are about the well-being of our kids."
Gillibrand then deflected another question by discussing how her campaign is banning super PAC money and will not accept money from corporate PACs. During her response, she also referenced the Koch brothers before Wallace cut her off to ask if she will still hold the fundraiser.
"Of course," Gillibrand said. "I'm going to ask Americans all across the country to support my campaign, but taking away the influence that corporate PAC checks have, the fact that federal lobbyists get to control everything."
Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006 and later appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton in 2009 after she became secretary of state. Gillibrand took $1,008,944 from lobbyists between 2005 and 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. She accepted $4,962,153 from business-connected PACs during the same time.