Buttigieg releases list of clients he worked with at McKinsey

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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday released a list of clients he worked with during his time at global consulting powerhouse McKinsey & Company, with clients ranging from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to the U.S. Defense Department.

A timeline of his three-year stint at the firm released by his campaign shows that Buttigieg worked on at least seven projects between 2007 and 2010. Those projects covered a broad swath of industries and policy areas ranging from climate change and clean energy to international development, according to the list provided by his campaign.

Buttigieg’s campaign said other clients he worked with included Best Buy, Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws, the U.S. Postal Service, the Energy Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy, along with several utility companies and other environmental groups. 

The mayor has faced mounting pressure from liberal activists and his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to disclose the clients he worked with as an associate at McKinsey. The consultancy announced on Monday that it would allow Buttigieg to release the list of his clients after he asked the company to allow him to break a nondisclosure agreement that had barred him from detailing his past projects and clients.

Buttigieg said in a statement on Tuesday that the timeline provided evidence that his work at McKinsey focused primarily on “research and analysis.”

“Now, voters can see for themselves that my work amounted to mostly research and analysis,” he said. “They can also see that I value both transparency and keeping my word. Neither of these qualities are something we see coming out of Washington, especially from this White House. It’s time for that to change.”

Buttigieg’s first client at McKinsey, in 2007, was the insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. That project, which lasted approximately three months, “looked at overhead expenditures such as rent, utilities, and company travel,” his campaign said.

“The project he was assigned to did not involve policies, premiums, or benefits,” according to the timeline. “Because this was his first client study, it largely involved on-the-job training to develop skills in the use of spreadsheets and presentation software.”

In 2008, Buttigieg’s projects focused on retailers, including Loblaws in Canada and the electronics retailer Best Buy, where he looked into “opportunities for selling more energy-efficient home products in their stores.”

Buttigieg, according to his campaign, took a leave of absence from McKinsey in the summer and fall of 2008 to help “full-time” with a Democratic gubernatorial campaign in Indiana. He returned to the firm after the election.

For the remainder of 2008 until his departure from McKinsey in 2010, Buttigieg’s work included a project co-sponsored by the NRDC, EPA, Department of Energy, and other nonprofit environmental groups and utility companies; a study for the Energy Foundation; a project for the Defense Department to increase employment and entrepreneurship in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a study to identify new sources of revenue at the U.S. Postal Service, according to his campaign.

The disclosure comes as Buttigieg finds himself in an ongoing spat with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of his competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination, over transparency and both candidates’ past work in the private sector.

In addition to raising questions about his work at McKinsey, Warren and critics of Buttigieg had pressed him to open up his private, high-dollar fundraisers to the press and disclose his “bundlers,” donors who raise large amounts of money for campaigns. An official for Buttigieg announced on Monday that journalists would be allowed to attend his fundraisers and that the campaign would update its list of bundlers.

Warren has faced her own share of scrutiny in recent days over her past private legal work. Her campaign released updated information on Sunday revealing that she had earned nearly $2 million for that work.

The back-and-forth between Buttigieg and Warren over their past work underscores how private-sector experience has become something of a liability for Democratic candidates at a time when progressives are pushing for tighter government regulation of business, financial services and energy production, among other industries.

Warren has been particularly aggressive in calling for such policies, proposing, for example, a single-payer health care system that would eliminate private insurance providers altogether and a sweeping anti-corruption plan to reduce corporate influence in Washington.

Buttigieg defended his time at McKinsey and took aim at critics on Tuesday, warning against “efforts to demonize and disqualify people who have worked in the private sector for the sake of political purity.”

“The majority of Americans have worked in the private sector at some point in their life. Good public servants – including recent Democratic Presidents – have worked in the private sector at some point in their lives,” he said in a statement. “I’m concerned about how these attacks pull the focus away from the very real issues voters across America are facing – from health care to gun violence – just as we are about to enter the most consequential election of our lifetimes.”

Tags Buttigieg campaign Elizabeth Warren McKinsey & Company Pete Buttigieg
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