2020 Election
Democratic Presidential candidate, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks with attendees during a campaign stop at Stonyfield Farms on April 19, 2019 in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
Scott Eisen—Getty Images
By Tara Law
April 27, 2019

Days after reports spread that he is the only leading 2020 Democratic candidate taking lobbyist donations, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg promised to return all donations from registered lobbyists.

In an email sent to supporters Friday, Buttigieg vowed to return all contributions from lobbyists, which amounted to $30,250 from 39 individuals. Buttigieg also promised to not accept money from lobbyists going forward, as well as donations from corporate PACs and the fossil fuel industry.

“Mayor Pete will not be influenced by special-interest money, and we understand that making this promise is an important part of that commitment,” the email said.

On April 18, NBC News reported that Buttigieg was planning to hold a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. in May hosted by at least one lobbyist. The Huffington Post reported on April 22 that the event drew attention to the fact that Buttigieg is the most high-profile candidate to take donations from lobbyists.

Party progressives have increasingly pushed Democratic candidates to forgo donations from lobbyists, arguing that the contributions influence politics. As Dave Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity noted in TIME, Obama appointed 31 of his campaign bundlers to ambassadorships.

After news of Buttigieg accepting lobbyist donations broke, progressives tweeted their disappointment.

Writer and activist Shaun King tweeted that Buttigieg’s decision to take the donations is a “red flag.”

Buttigieg announced on April 1 that his campaign has received $7 million in donations. His average donation was $36.35, and 64% of all donations were under $200.

 

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

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