According to the campaign, Buttigieg’s work for Blue Cross Blue Shield “looked at overhead expenditures such as rent, utilities, and company travel. The project he was assigned to did not involve policies, premiums, or benefits.”
His work for Loblaw’s included studying the effects of price cuts on products across their stores, according to the release. For Best Buy, Buttigieg “investigated opportunities for selling more energy-efficient home products in their stores.”
His stint with the EPA and the Energy Department included researching ways to attack climate change through energy efficiency. He helped the Defense Department in efforts to increase “employment and entrepreneurship” in Iraq and Afghanistan. His final project consisted of analyzing new sources of revenue for the Postal Service.
That Buttigieg advised Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will provide more fodder to liberal critics who have already taken to calling him “Wall Street Pete” and suggested that his “Medicare for all who want it” plan preserves the health insurance industry and fails to provide the kind of drastic change to the health-care system promised by Medicare-for-all.
In an interview with the Atlantic, Buttigieg said he did not think his work led to job cuts or changes in people’s insurance.
“I don’t know what the conclusions were or what it led to. So it’s tough for me to say,” he told the magazine, noting he had been taken off the Blue Cross Blue Shield project years before the provider cut jobs.
However, Buttigieg acknowledged there were issues with McKinsey’s corporate approach.
“It’s a place that is as amoral as the American business community in general, or at least the corporate community, can be. And that’s one of the problems with it,” Buttigieg told the magazine. “I never worked or was asked to work on things that I had a problem with, but it’s a place that I think, like any other law firm or firms that deal with companies, just thinks about client work and doesn’t always think about the bigger implications.”
The release came in a week of hurried adjustments by the Buttigieg campaign, which was under fire for not disclosing the details of the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s work with the consulting behemoth and for keeping his fundraisers closed to the media.
After a weekend of pointed questions from other candidates and the media, and criticisms from demonstrators in Iowa, his campaign has now released those details and agreed to open his fundraisers, beginning with an event in New York City on Tuesday night.
Buttigieg said he had not released the names of his clients until this week because of a nondisclosure agreement he signed at McKinsey.
On Friday, he offered what he called “a summary,”which outlined the nature of his work there but not the names of his clients. He also asked to be released from that NDA. On Monday, a McKinsey spokesman said the firm would allow Buttigieg to disclose the names, but added that confidentiality remained important to the firm.
“At the same time, we recognize the unique circumstances presented by a presidential campaign,” the firm said. “After receiving permission from the relevant clients, we have informed Mayor Buttigieg that he may disclose the identity of the clients he served while at McKinsey from 2007 to 2010.”
The firm added that any confidential, proprietary or classified information still must be kept secret.
On Monday, after McKinsey gave him the green light, Buttigieg had promised a list of the client names “soon.” It is unclear why the campaign did not immediately release the client list, given that Buttigieg had already released the summary of his work with the consulting firm.
“I never worked on a project inconsistent with my values, and if asked to do so, I would have left the firm rather than participate,” Buttigieg said in a statement Friday.
That summary referred to work for a “nonprofit health care provider,” as well as a “grocery and retail chain,” a “consumer goods retail chain,” groups studying energy efficiency, and “a U.S. Government department in a project focused on increasing employment and entrepreneurship” in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The information Buttigieg released Tuesday aligns with that summary.
Buttigieg was 25 years old at the time he joined McKinsey, working his first job after graduating from Oxford University, and reported $73,557 in income on his 2007 federal tax return. Buttigieg also filed a state return in Michigan that year, in which he reported that just more than $22,000 of that income came from the work he did for Blue Cross Blue Shield there.
Buttigieg has received about $26,000 in contributions from individuals associated with the national health conglomerate, according to OpenSecrets.org — more than any of his rivals, though Biden and Sanders have received nearly as much.
McKinsey and other such companies commonly recruit heavily from students with similar educational backgrounds as Buttigieg. But as some factions of the Democratic electorate have grown increasingly averse to corporate ties and suspicious of the health insurance industry, some of his opponents — such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from both.
Warren, whose support overlaps somewhat with the South Bend mayor, has been particularly critical of Buttigieg lately. In response to questions about her own tax returns a few weeks ago, Warren took a not-so-subtle shot at Buttigieg.
“I understand that there are some candidates who want to distract from the fact that they have not released the names of their clients,” Warren said then.
Warren took direct aim last week and called on him to open his closed-door fundraisers. He has since done that, agreeing to let a pool reporter into his fundraising events beginning this week.