Pete Buttigieg Swears Off the Lobbyist Money He Once Accepted

Pete Buttigieg, whose upstart presidential campaign has benefited from an early surge of donations and national attention, will no longer accept contributions from federal lobbyists, his campaign said Friday, bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats who want to reform the way campaigns raise money.

Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., was somewhat isolated among his rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination because he initially accepted lobbyist money, putting him at odds with the more progressive wing of his party and its increasing demands to take big money out of politics.

He will return the contributions he had already accepted from lobbyists, which his campaign said totaled $30,250 from 39 individuals.

“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 campaign said in an email to supporters.

Mr. Buttigieg raised $7 million in the first quarter of 2019, placing him in the upper half of the Democratic field.

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His campaign had released a list of bundlers — fund-raisers who gather checks from multiple donors — that included at least one federal lobbyist, Steve Elmendorf, who was set to host an event for Mr. Buttigieg next month. Mr. Elmendorf’s name no longer appears on the invitation page online.

The campaign also said it would not allow federal lobbyists to serve as bundlers.

The decision places Mr. Buttigieg in the same category as candidates like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom have rejected contributions from lobbyists. Ms. Warren, whose campaign has lagged in the money race, has taken an especially hard line, forgoing high-dollar fund-raisers and one-on-one meetings with major Democratic donors.

Mr. Buttigieg had already refused to accept money from corporate political action committees and recently signed a pledge refusing money from the oil, gas and coal industries.

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