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Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg answers questions at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Iowa Starting Line forum on December 6, 2019 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

#RefundPete Trends as Early Backers Request Donations Back After Learning Buttigieg Not So Progressive After All

"The honeymoon is over."

Julia Conley

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 info@peteforamerica.com," Hill tweeted.

In October, Buttigieg criticized his progressive opponents, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for running their campaigns on "pocket change" by accepting mostly small donations of under $200.

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.

According to testimonials by other former donors, the campaign has agreed to refund requests. 

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."

Buttigieg also said early in the campaign that he was open to packing the Supreme Court and lower courts and abolishing the Electoral College.

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," wrote the committee.


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