Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s top political donors received millions of dollars in city contracts after giving thousands to his campaigns while he was mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
The Daily Mail report found out that Buttigieg’s mayoral campaign committees received more than $250,000 from 2011 to 2019 from donors who were awarded a total of $33 million in infrastructure contracts from the city. Buttigieg was mayor of South Bend from 2012 until 2020 when he ran a failed campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The outlet revealed:
“Buttigieg’s political action committees took money from 23 companies who then got jobs from South Bend’s Board of Public Works whose members he appointed, documents obtained by.”
In two separate cases, according to the Daily Mail, Buttigieg received donations from companies the same day they got contracts from the city.
The Daily Mail gives us more details of this exclusive report:
Other city contractors gifted the mayor cigars, alcohol, and golf trips worth hundreds of dollars.
The companies, their executives, and spouses donated a total of $253,750 to Buttigieg’s campaigns and received a total of at least $33,310,426 in city contracts between 2011 and 2019.
After Buttigieg appointed one former company executive to the city’s Public Works department, the firm was then handed multiple infrastructure jobs and became one of Mayor Pete’s largest donors.
Buttigieg served as the mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020. He was appointed transportation secretary by President Joe Biden early last year.
Executives for one Indiana engineering firm, American Structurepoint, gave $35,850 to the mayor’s campaigns. Over the course of several years, the company received $790,177 in city contracts from South Bend.
In 2012, two months after meeting with representatives of American Structurepoint, Buttigieg appointed a former executive of the firm to lead South Bend’s Department of Public Works. In the following years, the department has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the company.
Other contractors gifted Buttigieg hundreds of dollars worth of alcohol, cigars, and golf trips.
Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams said in a statement to the Daily Mail:
“The pattern of contracts and donations appears to be a huge conflict of interest.”
“This really doesn’t bode well for the secretary of transportation when he has access to almost $1.2trillion in infrastructure money,” he continued. “This is alarming, and very concerning because this is the swamp personified. You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to look at this and think that something’s wrong here.
“Was there a quid pro quo? Was there some sort of backroom deal for these projects? Taxpayers deserve answers,” he added.
South Bend city officials told the outlet that the Transporation secretary “was not involved in the awarding of engineering and construction contracts” and that all of them are awarded “through a professional procurement process that is public and transparent,” and then given “to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder per State Law.”
In a statement to the outlet, the Transporation Department said that it has “consistently made transparency and accountability to the American people a top priority,” adding that federal grant money from the infrastructure law goes to fund states, cities, ports, and local entities, not contractors.
A department spokesperson went on to call allegations of corruption “absurd,” the Daily Mail said.
According to the Federal Election Commission:
“Federal government contractors are prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections.”
“You’re not going to find a smoking gun in how access, influence, and power works in American politics. So campaign finance restrictions are supposed to serve as proxies for preventing corruption,” Greytak continued.
“The idea that a company that has either a potential or a pending contract, or recently was a government contractor, is able to so expressly and openly give money to the people involved in those decisions, is a fundamentally corrupt system,” he said. “I’m stunned that the elected leaders there would want to operate in a system that allows for such potential perception of corruption.”