The New York Times Editorial Board called for South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to disclose his clients from his time at McKinsey, a management consulting firm, in an opinion piece published Thursday evening.
The board wrote in the editorial, “Mr. Buttigieg owes voters a more complete account of his time at the company” than the limited information he’s provided while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president.
Buttigieg, who worked for the consulting firm from 2007 to 2010, signed a nondisclosure agreement covering his time at the company. He told reporters in September that he had joined McKinsey because “I felt that I need to get experience in business.”
“I had studied economics academically … and I had worked a little bit around campaigns, but I hadn’t done the work of being involved in how people and money and goods move around the world,” Buttigieg told CNN. “And I had an opportunity to work on those things at a place known for being very strong at it … it felt like the missing piece of my education.”
On Tuesday, the Times reported that McKinsey consulted with Immigrations and Custom Enforcement on “detention savings opportunities,” including cutting spending on food and medical care for detained migrants, as part of a $20 million contract with ICE.
For his part, Buttigieg has been critical of the firm’s work, telling CNN, “I think they’ve made a lot of poor choices, especially in the last few years. I left about 10 years ago, but it’s, it’s really frustrating as somebody who worked there to see some of the decisions that they’ve made.”
Buttigieg reiterated his disappointment following the Times report, telling CNN in Birmingham, Alabama, “What I will say is that the decision to do what was reported yesterday in the Times is disgusting, and as somebody who left the firm a decade ago, seeing what certain people in that firm have decided to do is extremely frustrating and extremely disappointing.”
In the Thursday op-ed, the Times wrote, “But that’s an incomplete answer. Mr. Buttigieg needs to explain what he did at McKinsey.”
In a letter obtained by CNN, a coalition of national immigrants’ rights groups followed suit Thursday, calling on Buttigieg to return roughly $53,000 in donations from McKinsey employees.
“We believe that all candidates for higher office—especially those who claim to stand with immigrants like you—should immediately return any money from McKinsey & Company and its donations,” the groups wrote in a letter.
Buttigieg told CNN on Wednesday that the McKinsey donors who gave to his campaign weren’t involved in the firm’s ICE contract.
“I don’t believe that anybody involved in that effort has had anything to do with our campaign and, and so, you know, that’s separate from anything related to us,” he said, following a roundtable with business leaders in Alabama.
The campaign told CNN last month that Buttigieg has inquired about being released from his nondisclosure agreement with McKinsey.
“Previously, the campaign had reached out to McKinsey to inquire about what the NDA encompasses,” spokesman Chris Meagher said in a statement in November, “and this week again reached out to McKinsey about the possibility of being released from the NDA.”
The New York Times Editorial Board wrote Thursday that the ultimate responsibility lies with the candidate.
“The obligation to provide more information, however, ultimately falls on Mr. Buttigieg,” wrote the editorial board. “He must find a way to give voters a more complete accounting of his time at the company.”