South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back against fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the senator’s earlier critique of Buttigieg and his alleged fundraising ties with wealthy donors.
Warren, a top-tier candidate who has previously avoided publicly calling out her opponents, said that Buttigieg should open his campaign fundraising events to the media and disclose the wealthy donors behind his fundraisers.
“I think that Mayor Pete should open up the doors so that anyone can come in and report on what’s being said,” Warren said. Reports noted that this statement came as Buttigieg took the lead in some Iowa polls, overtaking Warren’s previous spot.
“Those doors shouldn’t be closed, and no one should be left to wonder what kind of promises are being made to the people that then pony up big bucks to be in the room,” she added.
In what many viewed as a subtle attack on Buttigieg, Warren also said: “We know that another [candidate] calls the people who raise a quarter-million dollars for him his ‘National Investors Circle,’ and he offers them regular phone calls and special access.”
“When a candidate brags about how beholden he feels to a group of wealthy investors, our democracy is in serious trouble,” she added.
Unlike some of her rivals seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Warren, along with fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, has shunned money from super PACs, focusing on funding her campaign through grassroots contributions instead.
Responding to Warren, Buttigieg told a Washington Post forum that even Warren couldn’t pass her own “purity test” on fundraising.
“The thing about these purity tests is that the people issuing them can’t even meet them. If doing traditional fundraising disqualifies you from running for president, then I guess neither one of us could be here,” the Indiana mayor added.
Warren has reiterated that she is against taking corporate money for her fundraising. In a Des Moines event earlier this year, she said she doesn’t take any money from PACs.
“I don’t believe democracy should be for sale to billionaires and giant corporations. I don’t take corporate PAC money,” Warren said.
But the Washington Post, citing federal election records, reported that Warren has taken contributions from PACs, most recently during her 2018 Senate race. Although the numbers are not high, reportedly just over $350,000 in PAC donations between 2017-2018, there was still corporate money in her previous run for public office.
This is not the first time that Buttigieg and Warren butted heads over their ties with corporations.
Warren earlier criticized Buttigieg’s corporate ties with McKinsey, asking him to disclose his previous clients during his 2-year stint at the white-collar consulting firm.
Buttigieg, on the other hand, has called out Warren, prodding the lawmaker to release her own tax returns during the time she worked as a legal consultant to corporate clients.