01:11 - Source: CNN
Elizabeth Warren: I'm not taking a dime of PAC money
CNN —  

Michael Pratt, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s finance director, is in the process of leaving Warren’s presidential campaign as a result of the senator’s recent decision to swear off soliciting money from wealthy donors during the primaries, according to a Warren campaign aide.

The aide told CNN Sunday morning that Pratt was “still a consultant but winding things down and transitioning out since we made the decision not to have (Warren) do high dollar events.”

News of the departure came at the close of the first quarter fundraising deadline. In the coming days, a more complete picture of the Warren campaign’s fundraising efforts is expected to come into focus. Her team has so far not released any early fundraising numbers, raising speculation that she is lagging behind her competitors.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Pratt resigned after a Valentine’s Day meeting in Washington that eventually “grew heated,” in which Pratt “noted that campaigns often collapse when they run out of money and pleaded with her not to cut off a significant cash stream.”

“He pointed out that winning over wealthy fund-raisers across the country helped build networks that could translate into political support, not just checks,” the Times said. “But Mr. Pratt lost the argument to two of Ms. Warren’s closest advisers, Dan Geldon and Joe Rospars, who made the case about standing apart from the field and freeing up her schedule.”

The Warren aide would not comment on the Valentine’s Day meeting details to CNN. Geldon, Warren campaign chief of staff, and Rospars, a Warren strategist, both did not respond to requests for comment. Pratt also did not respond to requests for comment.

Warren announced in late February that she would forgo fundraisers, dinners, receptions or phone calls with wealthy donors. Warren aides told CNN at the time that the campaign had not held a single fundraiser since the launch of her presidential exploratory committee.

Ahead of the looming first quarter deadline and concerns that Warren’s fundraising numbers will lag behind those of her competitors, one senior Warren aide insisted to CNN on Sunday that the decision to skip high-dollar fundraisers and outreach was made with full recognition of the trade-offs.

The aide pointed to the unusually expansive territory Warren has been able to cover so far beyond a handful of early states — including a Southern campaign swing to Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee earlier this month, and a rally in Long Island City, New York — as well as her robust policy rollouts.

The aide said they saw Warren as among the most active candidates in the field, and that they see this as a direct result of the senator not spending any time courting high-dollar donors.

But there is no question that a weak first quarter fundraising number would be a setback for Warren. Her seeming failure to shore up enthusiasm in the earliest stage of the 2020 race would raise questions about her electability, and it would be particularly noteworthy given the early massive fundraising hauls of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

In a recent interview with CNN about her small-dollar grassroots-focused fundraising strategy, Warren told CNN: “You know, in life, there are some people who have more money, there are some people who have less money. But everybody should have an equal share of our democracy.”

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.