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Pete Buttigieg's campaign to return lobbyist donations

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced in an email on Friday that the campaign will no longer accept contributions from federal lobbyists, and plans to return $30,250 to those who have already donated.

The big picture: The decision comes 1 day after former Vice President Joe Biden announced his presidential candidacy at the home of a Comcast executive, per Politico. Buttigieg recently found himself in the hot seat, per the Huffington Post, for being the only high-profile Democratic candidate to actively accept money from powerful Washington lobbyists.

Other Democratic candidates have sworn off donations from lobbyists and PACs, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who shunned "big money fundraisers" and is pushing for a grassroots donations movement. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also issued an announcement on Thursday taking a stand against special-interest fundraising.

Some 2020 Democratic contenders have been hush-hush on fundraising details against the backdrop of an intra-party debate over the role of big money in politics. Already, Buttigieg's campaign raised more than $7 million in Q1 of 2019, according to FEC filings.

Buttigieg's campaign will not:

  • allow lobbyists to serve as bundlers for the campaign.
  • accept money from corporate PACs.
  • accept contributions from fossil fuel firms.

Spokesperson Chris Meagher added on Friday that Steve Elmendorf — a lobbyist with clients such as Amazon and Facebook — will step down as a fundraiser for the Buttigieg campaign, per the AP.

Go deeper: Pete Buttigieg: Everything you need to know about the 2020 candidate