Though they initially viewed South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as an intriguing and progressive newcomer when he began his presidential campaign early this year, the #RefundPete hashtag began trending Thursday morning on social media as a growing number of former donors started requesting their donations back in the wake of recent revelations about the 2020 Democratic candidate.
Kristen Hill, a volunteer community leader for the presidential primary campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in North Carolina, was one of the first voters to kick off the viral hashtag #RefundPete.
"If Pete Buttigieg 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," Hill tweeted.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. #RefundPete
— Kristen Hill (@KristenAbigail) December 11, 2019
Buttigieg has raised 52% of his $50 million campaign dollars through large contributions, and has so far been outraised by both Sanders and Warren.
"Just got my refund from Pete's campaign," wrote one social media user as the #RefundPete hashtag took off. "It was just pocket change so he won't miss it."
Another shared the email they sent to the campaign as the hashtag took off.
"On March 19th of 2019 I made a ten-dollar donation to your campaign," wrote Quinn Rattan. "I was thrilled to donate to him alongside a few other candidates I determined were progressive and trying to restructure our broken political system."
"In the passing months, Mayer Buttigieg has repeatedly run disinformation campaigns about his opponents' plans for improving healthcare and public college...I also found his answer on big money in politics to be borderline disqualifying," Rattan added.
If you, like me, donated to Pete Buttigieg last spring no when he was pretending to be progressive they will give you your money back!
Just got a refund. Will be donating to either Sanders or Warren depending on who is in the best position to take down Biden. pic.twitter.com/tV4uU7Qyoo
— Quinn Rattan (@Qtip60) December 11, 2019
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According to testimonials by other former donors, the campaign has agreed to refund requests.
This past summer, upon reading about his excessive private jet use and seeing his response to Eric Logan’s death, I asked for a refund. I’m glad we are using our “pocket change” to send a message. Power in our collective rebuttal to his lack of transparency. #RefundPete pic.twitter.com/c44D8WWrZa
— Jenny Tinch (@jennytinch) December 11, 2019
I just requested my refund from Buttigieg. #RefundPete
— Dave Johnson (@dcjohnson) December 12, 2019
Progressives have denounced the mayor in recent weeks over what many have viewed as his disingenuous attacks on Medicare for All and universal tuition-free public college. Under pressure from progressive critics concerned about his lack of transparency regarding high-dollar fundraisers, Buttigieg finally announced Monday that he'd open the events to reporters.
Buttigieg's increasing attacks on Medicare for All presented a sharp contrast to his early campaign, when he urged the Democratic field to push for bold, far-reaching changes to the U.S. political and economic system. During the Democratic debate in July, he said, "It's time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say...Let's stand up for the right policy, go up there and defend it."
But since then, a number of critics have in recent months pointed to Buttigieg's alignment with corporate interests as evidence that he will do little to further progressive goals.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee highlighted the viral #RefundPete trend on Thursday.
The honeymoon is over. As Mayor Pete comes under increased scrutiny, some don't like what they see and are asking his campaign to refund their contributions. #RefundPete has been trending. https://t.co/V5iWPeLJsC
— BoldProgressives.org (@BoldProgressive) December 12, 2019
"The honeymoon is over," wrote the committee.