President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, may face questions about possible conflicts of interest due to donations to his 2020 presidential campaign, according to a report.
Many people and businesses who did public works projects in South Bend, Indiana, while Buttigieg was mayor later donated to his 2020 campaign, according to CNBC. Buttiegieg left office in January after announcing in 2018 he would not seek re-election.
Buttigieg raised nearly $100 million during his presidential campaign and his allies are denying there’s anything wrong with the contributions.
Donors noted by the financial news outlet include Kevin Kelly, president of construction company Walsh & Kelly, who donated $2,700 to Buttigieg after receiving $3 million in city contracts from 2017 to 2019.
AJ Patel, CEO of JSK Hospitality, which in 2018 paid South Bend $525,000 to acquire the city’s former College Football Hall of Fame building, gave $1,000 to Buttigieg.
Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott, donated $2,800 to Buttigieg’s campaign after opening a hotel in South Bend in 2018.
Kyle Copelin, principal of Epoch Architecture, which in 2017 took $280,000 to build a fire station, gave $500 to support the mayor’s presidential run.
“He will be accused of conflicts of interest and if the Republicans hold the Senate, he will undergo a very, very tough confirmation process,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told CNBC.
But Buttigieg allies say there’s nothing illegal or unusual about the donations.
“Each of these firms are well-respected and have a reputation locally for delivering high-quality services for the city and South Bend residents,” said South Bend city spokesman Caleb Bauer. “Each of these contracts also went through a professional procurement process that is public and transparent before being approved by the Board of Public Works, which is governed by state law.”