Pete Buttigieg’s campaign to become president of the United States was famously vapid. He scored points for being a millenial and being gay, but he was a shapeshifter on policy and he became a meme for speaking in abstractions and platitudes.
The most memorable moment of his campaign may be a quote from a CNN town hall event that went viral for being indecipherable. “The shape of our democracy is the issue that affects every other issue,” Pete said. His campaign thought it was so good they made it into a social media image, which was mocked by people online for its incoherence. Or maybe the most memorable part was his pseudo-epic comments when the lights went out while he was speaking in a school gymnasium. “If we can light up a high school gym—we can light a neighborhood…” etc., etc.
Buttigieg dropped out of the race before Super Tuesday along with Amy Klobuchar and endorsed Joe Biden, paving the way for Biden to secure the moderate lane in the Democratic primary and defeat Bernie Sanders. He’s benefiting now by being nominated for United States Secretary of Transportation, a position for which he seems underqualified (his record on transportation matters is quite thin). But he already cashed in on his new name recognition in the months since he dropped out of the race in a few other ways, his recently-filed financial disclosure as an administration nominee shows.
Pete Buttigieg signed a contract worth as much as half of one million dollars with W.W. Norton division Liveright Publishing for a second book called, appropriately enough, Trust, which was published in October and is 224 pages long. “An urgent call to foster an ‘American way of trust’ at this painfully polarized juncture in the nation’s history, Trust is a direct reckoning with the prevailing corruption of social responsibility,” Liveright’s website reads.
Additionally, Mayor Pete secured a minimum guaranteed payment of $150,000 from iHeartMedia to produce a podcast over three and a half months called The Deciding Decade. Twenty-one episodes of the podcast were produced, each ranging in length from 18 minutes to 43 minutes. Guests on the program included former Obama national security adviser and future Biden administration Domestic Policy Council leader Susan Rice, actress Eva Longoria, musician John Legend, and, for the final episode that was posted in December, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Pete was not the only Buttigieg who cashed in following his trivial presidential bid. His husband Chasten also got a book deal for his own memoir, which is called I Have Something to Tell You and was published by Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books in September. Chasten Buttigieg, who was a fellow at Harvard University until December 2020 and does not appear to be otherwise employed, was paid between $50,001 and $100,000 to write the book. It’s 256 pages long and billed by the publisher as “a moving, hopeful, and refreshingly candid memoir by the husband of former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg about growing up gay in his small Midwestern town, his relationship with Pete, and his hope for America’s future.” It was an “INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER,” according to Simon & Schuster’s website.
Perhaps more concerning given that Mayor Pete will soon be a cabinet secretary, after dropping out of the race he morphed his campaign into a PAC and also formed an affiliated dark money group called Win the Era Action Fund, where he was a public representative from April 2020 until December 2020.
From June 2020 to November 2020, Win the Era Action Fund donated more than $1.3 million to the Win the Era PAC, which endorsed federal and state Democratic candidates. Win the Era Action Fund does not disclose its donors and there is virtually no information to be found about the group online. At Daily Poster, Julia Rock asked a good question: Buttigieg’s ethics pledge says he will recuse himself from matters involving Win the Era, but what will he do about matters involving the group’s donors?
Buttigieg’s rise in the race was fueled by wealthy bundlers, including private equity billionaires and pharmaceutical industry executives who raised at least $250,000 during the primary, though his campaign dropped its pledge to release their names publicly. Headed into the New Hampshire primary, Buttigieg’ campaign appeared to be improperly coordinating with VoteVets, a super PAC supporting his messaging with TV and digital ads.
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