Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg was speaking to a predominantly black audience about campaign finance reform last month in Moncks Corner, South Carolina when he committed an epic faux pas.
Radio host Charlamagne Tha God sat down with the candidate for a conversation about his economic agenda for African Americans.
“I get that this is an ongoing process of earning trust, and I get that as a new guy I don’t have decades worth of experience for folks around the country to get to know me, right?” Buttigieg told the radio show host. He also admitted that “mostly white folks” attend his campaign events in South Carolina, even though black voters make up two-thirds of the state’s Democratic Party primary electorate .
He was attempting to shed light on the topic of “dark money,” which pours into super PACs that have very few campaign finance regulations. Unlike political campaigns, Super PACS can spend millions without revealing their donors. Campaign finance law does however prohibit direct communication about spending between campaigns and supportive super PACs, so campaigns and political committees send signals when they need help using coded language.
“I am not a fan of the current campaign finance system, said the 38-year-old presidential candidate. “And the reality is, it’s not going to get better, in all the ways we need it to get better, without a constitutional reform,” he said. That’s when things took an awkward turn.
“So, there’s things we can and should do right away, they can deal with black money — sorry, dark money,” said Buttigieg when Charlamagne stepped in quickly to rescue him saying, “African American money.”
The mortified presidential candidate, pivoted quickly with the witty comeback that he is “always happy to take black money contributions into my campaign.”
These comments did not go down well with the Sunrise Movement, a Super PAC that rejected Buttiegeg in favor of endorsing Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
“We’re building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process,” their website proclaims. “We’re ending the influence of fossil fuel billionaires on our government and future.”
They tweeted last month: “Buttiegeg tried to get our endorsement. Cozied up to us. Now that we’ve endorsed [Bernie Sanders], he’s slamming us as “dark money”, as if he never wanted our endorsement.
“You wanted our support back then, Pete. Don’t be that guy who responds to rejection with insults,” they urged in a follow up tweet.
They didn’t stop there. In another tweet they claimed, “Let’s be real. We’re not @PeteButtigieg’s usual donors: rich white people sipping expensive wine at a $2800 event. Pete: the guy who hits on you, then slams you publicly after you turn him down.”
“Pete is lying and should be called out for it. What a massive hypocrite to defend his billionaire donors and then call the Sunrise Movement a Super PAC. Not very Christian to lie so blatantly,” the hostile PAC claimed.
The military veteran also claimed he would not support any super PACs formed specifically to back him, but his campaign spokesman Chris Meagher openly welcomed the more than $1.3 million in New Hampshire TV ads sponsored by VoteVets, a veterans’ group that endorsed him in December.