When it comes to 2020 presidential election competitors Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the niceties are officially over.
After a Democrat Party fundraiser Warren held Thursday in Boston, she went straight for the jugular, blasting Buttigieg for his policy of holding closed-door fundraising events with unnamed but presumably wealthy and elite donors.
“I think that Mayor Pete should open up the doors so that anyone can come in and report on what’s being said,” she said to reporters. “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.”
Some might call that an uppercut.
She also took a shot at the mayor over his past work for McKinsey & Company, a billion-dollar+ consulting firm.
When asked by a reporter whether Buttigieg should release more details on his work with the firm, she replied by suggesting a possible conflict of interest may exist.
“It is even more important that candidates expose possible conflicts of interest right now,” she said. “And that means, for example, that the mayor should be releasing who’s on his finance committee, who are the bundlers who are raising big money for him, who he’s given titles to and made promises to.”
Some might call that a jab.
Lis Smith, Buttigieg’s senior communications adviser, responded with her own jab later that very same evening by demanding Warren practice what she preaches and release the details about her own potentially crony past:
If @ewarren wants to have a debate about transparency, she can start by opening up the doors to the decades of tax returns she’s hiding from her work as a corporate lawyer- often defending the types of corporate bad actors she now denounces. https://t.co/3nGZc7Dzhj
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) December 6, 2019
Before being elected to office in 2012 as a fake Native American Indian, Warren moonlighted as a corporate lawyer as she taught at Harvard University.
This corporate work “earned her hundreds of thousands of dollars over roughly two decades beginning in the late 1980s, mostly while she was on the faculty at Harvard. Much of it involved representing big corporate clients,” according to The New York Times.
Her clients included LTV Steel, a Cleveland-based conglomerate that tried in 1995 to weasel its way out of contributing to a health fund for retired miners who used to work in its coal miners before they were shuttered.
“LTV believed that it should not have to pay. Those claims, the company said, should have been handled as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Ms. Warren’s job was to convince the Supreme Court to hear LTV’s case,” the Times notes.
While she reportedly failed at that effort, she got paid for it nevertheless. Got paid big, big, big bucks, presumably. How much exactly? That remains unknown because the senator’s only released 11 years of tax returns, not including her returns from 1995.
It’s almost as if she has something to hide …
With Buttigieg, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In response to his key challenger’s jabs, on Friday he released a timeline and statement about his work with McKinsey. However, the statement didn’t actually say anything substantive.
And here’s why:
“I am today reiterating my request that McKinsey release me from this agreement, and I again make clear that I authorize them to release the full list of clients I was assigned to serve,” the statement reads. “This company must recognize the importance of transparency in the exceptional case of a former employee becoming a competitive candidate for the U.S. presidency.”
Now more than ever, the American people deserve transparency from their president. I’m urging McKinsey to do the right thing, and in the meantime, I’m providing a summary of my work.https://t.co/EfQF0cGoDL
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 7, 2019
In short, he’s allegedly forbidden at the moment from releasing the names of his clients and disclosing what exact sort of work he’d performed for them.
He repeated this refrain when questioned by a New Hampshire voter Friday, saying, “I believe in keeping your word, and I signed a legal document about client names and I am calling on McKinsey to release me from that so that client list can go out.”
As for the feud between him and Warren, it’s likely to only grow as the actual primary elections fast approach and as his poll numbers continue to inch closer and closer to hers.
As of Saturday, the senator’s polling average was at 14.2 percent, while Buttigieg’s was at 11.4 percent. That’s a stark difference from the 26.6 percent and 5.6 percent averages, respectively, that Warren and Buttigieg commanded as recently as October.
“They’re fighting for the top slot in Iowa, which is the center of the universe for them, and it’s crunch time,” Jeff Link, an Iowa-based Democrat consultant, said to Politico, adding that the campaigns’ jabs this week are “a recognition by each campaign that the other is a threat, and we haven’t really had that before now.”
No doubt Warren, whose obviously started the tiff, feels threatened. As she should, given as Buttigieg is currently leading her in Iowa by 6.3 percentage points. Ouch.
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