South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is being scrutinized by his supporters for his closed-door fundraising practices with billionaires to the point that some are asking for their campaign donations back.
The hashtag #RefundPete has even become popular on Twitter, with many users expressing their discontent with the 2020 Democratic candidate and encouraging their fellow Democrats to ask for their money back.
#WallStreetPete continues with private fundraisers/calling the police on protestors instead of embracing real campaign finance reform.
— Conor Bronsdon (@ConorBronsdon) December 12, 2019
The fact that #RefundPete is a thing highlights three things.
1. How good of job his campaign did at deception early on.
2. How easy it is for voters to get caught up in the platitudes and blubber and ignore the policy.
3. How much @PeteButtigieg is just white hot garbage.
— DavidGilbertPederson (@NotoriousDGP) December 12, 2019
Pro-tip: If @petebuttigieg fooled you into thinking he was a progressive at the beginning of his campaign and you donated what he thinks is pocket change, you can ask for a refund by emailing your receipt to email@example.com. #RefundPete
— Kristen Hill (@KristenAbigail) December 11, 2019
The trend came about after his presidential rivals, specifically, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, called for Buttigieg to be more transparent about his fundraisers and his work for corporate consulting firm McKinsey & Co., the New York Daily News reported.
After the company released the mayor from his nondisclosure agreement, Buttigieg published a list of nine clients, including corporations and government agencies, with whom he worked.
“Now, voters can see for themselves that my work amounted to mostly research and analysis,” Buttigieg said in a statement, according to Politico.
“They can also see that I value both transparency and keeping my word,” he said.
Buttigieg is under fire for his involvement with two of those companies — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which laid off hundreds of workers, and the Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws, which was involved in a bread price-fixing scandal.
Supporters of Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are now using Buttigieg’s work with Blue Cross Blue Shield to put the South Bend mayor in a negative light.
“Voters need Pete to address new concerns that at McKinsey he may have helped lay off workers in places like Michigan,” Adam Green, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder, said. His group has endorsed Warren for president, Politico reported.
Progressives have also nicknamed Buttigieg “Wall Street Pete” for donations he has received at closed-door fundraisers with affluent people, such as the one thrown by investment bankers at the Redbury Hotel near Midtown New York, according to the Daily News.
Protesters from the left-wing group New York Communities for Change had followed the presidential candidate from a fundraiser at the Upper West Side home of tech investor Kevin Ryan to one at the home of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Jonathan Westin, the executive director of the group, said although he didn’t know for sure where the closed-door fundraisers would be held, he told the Daily News he checked Buttigieg’s Federal Election Commission filings and wrote down the billionaires and millionaires in the area. This was not the first time the group protested a Buttigieg campaign fundraiser.
“As a New Yorker, where we found him [Tuesday] night was at a real estate investor’s apartment. In New York, the rent is sky high because these people are jacking up rents. That’s on a personal level,” he said.
“On a larger level, Pete can’t run a populist presidential campaign while he’s being funded by billionaires. You can run for president without taking money from executives.”
Buttigieg spokesman Matt Corridoni said 98 percent of the campaign’s individual donations were well below $200, according to the Daily News.
“We are proud to have the support of more than 700,000 grassroots donors across the country who are helping power this campaign,” he said.
Still, finance records show that Buttigieg has received more than 300 contributions from employees of the top five Wall Street firms, 200 more than former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner.
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