While he served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, between 2012 and 2020, prior to being selected as President Biden’s Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg’s top political donors reportedly received millions of dollars in city contracts.
“Buttigieg’s political action committees took money from 23 companies who then got jobs from South Bend’s Board of Public Works on which he was seated, documents obtained by DailyMail.com reveal,” The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday, adding, “On two occasions, the former presidential candidate received donations the same day the companies were awarded contracts.”
The funds contributed by the aforementioned companies, their executives and spouses amounted to a whopping $253,750 to Buttigieg’s campaigns; those donors allegedly received a total of at least $33,310,426 in city contracts between 2011 and 2019.
Taxpayers Protection Alliance president David Williams commented:
The pattern of contracts and donations appears to be a huge conflict of interest. This really doesn’t bode well for the secretary of transportation when he has access to almost $1.2trillion in infrastructure money. This is alarming, and very concerning, because this is the swamp personified. You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to look at this and think that something’s wrong here. Was there a quid pro quo? Was there some sort of backroom deal for these projects? taxpayers deserve answers.
When The Daily Mail communicated with the city of South Bend, they were told that Buttigieg “was not involved in the awarding of engineering and construction contracts” and that all contracts were awarded “through a professional procurement process that is public and transparent” and handed “to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder per State Law.”
The Daily Mail cited several examples of donors to Buttigieg’s political campaign and subsequent interactions between Buttigieg and the companies connected to the donors.
Buttigieg’s 2011 mayoral campaign received $1,500 from a co-owner of Indiana infrastructure firm American Structurepoint; representatives from the company met with Buttigieg in the autumn of 2012, and two months later Buttigieg revealed former American Structurepoint executive Eric Horvath would be director of the South Bend Department of Public Works (BPW).
“As part of his role, Horvath also became executive director of the Board of Public Works – the city committee that grants public money for large construction jobs,” The Daily Mail pointed out, adding, “The following year, American Structurepoint was awarded a contract for the South Bend Smart Streets Project, which had a total budget of $25 million. Between January 2014 and March 2019, senior executive vice president at the company Greg Henneke donated $31,850 to Mayor Pete’s campaigns.”
Meanwhile, American Structurepoint reportedly reaped over $790,000 in city contracts from the Board of Public Works.
In February 2017, Henneke donated $1,000 to Buttigieg’s campaign to become Democratic National Committee chair; one day later American Structurepoint was given $98,860 in two contracts.
In 2011 Buttigieg’s mayoral campaign received $750 from the construction company DLZ Indiana; in 2013, the city of South Bend hired DLZ for a study regarding city streets. “After Buttigieg attended another DLZ golf luncheon in July 2013, the company was awarded the bid for construction worth $113,000,” The Daily Mail reported, noting, “The firm’s subsidiary DLZ Industrial LLC gave a further $600 to the mayor’s campaign in August 2016, and a month later DLZ Indiana was awarded a $17,430 contract from the BPW. In February 2017 DLZ Industrial gave $5,000 to Pete For DNC, and a slew of further contracts followed.”
Ram Rajadhyaksha, a senior vice president at DLZ, told The Daily Mail, “DLZ takes pride in providing quality engineering and architectural services at highly competitive fees, and has done so for many years prior to Mayor Buttigieg holding elected City office.”
“Two construction firms, Abonmarche and Donohue & Associates, also received city contracts the same day their executives donated to Buttigieg’s mayoral campaign, according to documents. Donohue & Associates president Craig Brunner and his wife Sandra gave $1,000 to the campaign on August 8, 2017, the same day Brunner’s company was awarded a $150,000 job by the city,” The Daily Mail noted. “Two weeks later on August 22 that year, Abonmarche’s board chairman John Linn gave $2,000 to Mayor Pete’s campaign. The same day, the South Bend BPW approved a $75,700 contract for the company.”
Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy for Transparency International, said Buttigieg’s habit of receiving money from companies his public works board awarded city contracts to carried an “obvious stench,” adding:
I’m stunned if it is true that South Bend Indiana doesn’t have laws on the books that prohibit this. … At the federal level, this would be entirely illegal. A federal contractor cannot make a contribution to a candidate, because of the obvious conflict of interest. … The laws in South Bend should be just as strong. You’re not going to find a smoking gun in how access, influence and power works in American politics. So campaign finance restrictions are supposed to serve as proxies for preventing corruption. The idea that a company that has either a potential or a pending contract, or recently was a government contractor, is able to so expressly and openly give money to the people involved in those decisions, is a fundamentally corrupt system. I’m stunned that the elected leaders there would want to operate in a system that allows for such potential perception of corruption.
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