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In 'Mind-Blowing Omission,' Buttigieg Campaign Failed to Disclose Wall Street Power Brokers in Release of Major Fundraisers

A "vulture" hedge fund manager, charter school founder, and lawyer who represented Wall Street banks during the financial crisis were among the bundlers who were not previously disclosed.

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosts a town hall meeting at the Lions Den in Fort Dodge, Iowa on April 16, 2019. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Among the more than 20 top fundraisers for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg that his 2020 presidential campaign omitted from a release of his "campaign bundlers" on Friday were hedge fund executives and other power brokers with ties to Wall Street.

As Politico reported Tuesday, the list of about 100 bundlers who have raised more than $25,000 each for the mayor left out a number of donors included in an internal campaign fundraising report which the outlet had previously received.

The omission was inadvertent according to Buttigieg spokesman Chris Meagher, who told Politico the campaign was making an updated, accurate list. The news was nonetheless condemned as "sketchy" by Jeff Hauser of the watchdog group Revolving Door Project.

"Pete's campaign dumped his bundlers last Friday night, but the Friday night news dumps only works if there's few threads for reporters to pull. Otherwise, it reeks of deception and only whets reporters' appetites. It seems to have backfired in this case."
—Adam Jentleson, Democracy Forward
"The first time I saw this list, I said, 'There is no way this is comprehensive.' It's just kind of mind-blowing that they would be this dishonest," Hauser told Politico.

Under pressure from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the Buttigieg campaign on Friday evening released a list of more than 100 bundlers who have raised more than $25,000 for the mayor's bid for the Democratic ticket. Warren had called on Buttigieg to release the names of his top donors and open his private high-dollar fundraisers to the media.

In response to criticism from Warren and other progressives, Buttigieg said last week that his campaign "strives to be the most transparent in the field." But Politico revealed that nearly two dozen bundlers had been left out of the campaign's data release, which one critic derided as a "Friday night news dump" designed to satisfy the demands for transparency while leaving out key information.

The tactic "only works if there's few threads for reporters to pull," tweeted Adan Jentleson of Democracy Forward. "Otherwise, it reeks of deception and only whets reporters' appetites. It seems to have backfired in this case."

On social media, a number of critics scrutinized the list of previously-undisclosed bundlers that was revealed by Politico Tuesday evening, including former ambassadors, entertainment and advertising executives, and Wall Street figures.

One such bundler was William Rahm, managing director of the hedge fund Centerbridge Partners. The fund was one of several firms that concealed its Puerto Rican debt holdings through shell companies as pension funds in the territory were slashed. 

"As Puerto Rican debt mounted, vultures swooped in, buying nearly half of the distressed bonds and using that leverage to pressure the Puerto Rican government," wrote David Dayen at The American Prospect earlier this year. "The bouts of austerity and suffering that we've seen on the island are in no small part due to the role of vulture funds like Centerbridge Partners."

"Give Buttigieg credit: He is at least aware of which bundlers he should try to conceal from the public," journalist Ryan Grim tweeted.

The advocacy group New York Communities for Change also highlighted the Buttigieg campaign contributions of hedge fund manager and John Petry, a charter school founder, while the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) pointed to another bundler, H. Rodgin Cohen, who "repped big banks during the financial crisis."

"Wall Street has found their candidate!" tweeted New York Communities for Change.

Buttigieg has raised 52% of his campaign funds from large donors, compared with 29% for Warren and 24% for Sen. Bernie Sander (I-VT.), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Neither Warren nor Sanders are holding fundraisers with high-dollar contributors.

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