Buttigieg surrogate on candidate's past consulting work: 'I don't think it matters'

A surrogate for Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegWhat a Biden administration should look like Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls LGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress MORE’s presidential campaign said Tuesday that scrutiny over the South Bend, Ind., mayor's past work for a consulting firm is of little interest to voters.

In response to a question about the focus on Buttigieg's work for McKinsey & Co., Jennifer Holdsworth said, "I don't think it matters."

“In a primary, you have to answer very specific questions, but this isn’t a question that voters are asking,” Holdsworth, a senior vice president of issues management for MWWPR Public Affairs, told Hill.TV. “This is a question that other candidates are asking."

Holdsworth echoed comments from Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for Buttigieg's campaign, saying the public can expect to see a client list “in short order.”

A spokesperson for McKinsey said this week that the international consulting firm will disclose Buttigieg's former clients.

The firm said Monday that it had received permission from “relevant clients,” and acknowledged "the unique circumstances presented by a presidential campaign."

The move comes after the mayor asked the firm to release a list of his clients from 2007 to 2010, saying a non-disclosure agreement had prevented him from naming them.

Buttigieg’s employment with McKinsey were thrust into the spotlight after reports surfaced that the firm had done work for controversial clients, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a frequent target of Democrats.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren has expressed interest in being Biden's Treasury secretary: report The Democrats' 50 state strategy never reached rural America What a Biden administration should look like MORE (D-Mass.), one of Buttigieg's top rivals, and others had called on the mayor to make his McKinsey client list public. Warren told reporters last week that “voters want to know about possible conflicts of interest.”

The New York Times editorial board also called on Buttigieg to disclose more information about his consulting work at McKinsey, saying he owes voters "a more complete account of his time at the company."

Buttigeig, meanwhile, has criticized Warren over her compensation for legal work before she was elected to the Senate in 2012. The Massachusetts senator worked in bankruptcy law and, according to information released by her campaign over the weekend, she received just under $2 million for her legal work over the past three decades.

Warren and Buttigieg have been critical of each other on the issue of transparency.

“It’s really striking that this is the line of attack that the senator took because we’ve been focused on the issues like health care and like education,” Holdsworth said, referring to Warren. “When your issues are no longer resonating or you feel like you’re losing ground, unfortunately, this is the type of attack that some people turn to. But I think now we’ve had the conversation.”

Warren’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Hill.TV.

—Tess Bonn