Although Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has recently tried to distance himself from his stint at McKinsey & Company, he’s become the biggest beneficiary of donations from employees at the international consulting firm.
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Through the third quarter of 2019, Buttigieg’s campaign received almost $55,000 from 165 employees at McKinsey and its related organizations, according to The Wall Street Journal, which analyzed Federal Election Commission records and data from the payment platform ActBlue.
That easily topped the donations that other Democratic candidates received from McKinsey. California Sen. Kamala Harris, in a distant second, pulled in about $19,000 from the firm, the Journal reported.
While the donations that Buttigieg received from McKinsey employees pales to the total contributions he’s received —at the end of September, the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s campaign had raised $51.5 million — it could open him up to criticism about the work he did at McKinsey from 2007 to 2010, as well as some of the company’s controversial work with authoritarian governments.
“I don’t regret the work that I did there, because I did good work,” Buttigieg told reporters on his campaign bus in Iowa last weekend, the Journal reported. “I am upset about decisions that they made that I think are, first of all, wrong, and secondly, for anybody who has worked there, it’s upsetting to be associated with a company that went on and made those decisions.”
McKinsey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s unclear what type of work Buttigieg did at McKinsey, whose operations are generally shrouded in secrecy. He’s previously said that he’s worked on projects involving renewable energy, “war zone economic development” and grocery prices, according to Politico.
In April, the New Yorker’s David Remnick pressed Buttigieg about revelations that McKinsey advised Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company accused of fanning the flames of the opioid crisis, on selling OxyContin and that has helped raise authoritarian and corrupt governments around the world by advising countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China and South Africa.
“And I think that, you know, this firm needs to be a lot more selective and a lot more thoughtful in the work that it does,” Buttigieg said. “There should be a higher standard because, while everybody recognizes there is a right to legal counsel, I’m not convinced that there is any kind of right to management-consulting services.”