Pete Buttigieg shuts down PAC as rival 2020 Democrats reject PAC money

Key Points
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg shuts down his political action committee, the Hitting Home PAC.
  • The PAC, which Buttigieg launched in June 2017 following his failed bid to become chair of the Democratic National Committee, has raised $403,503 and spent nearly all of it — $399,267 — by the end of 2018.
  • In the 2020 Democratic "money primary," some of the top contenders are already shunning PAC money.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Kamil Krzaczynski | AFP | Getty Images

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday shut down his political action committee as he looks to continue gaining steam in a Democratic primary field where some of the biggest names have sworn off donations from PACs.

The Hitting Home PAC, which Buttigieg launched in June 2017 following his failed bid to become chair of the Democratic National Committee, raised $403,503 and spent nearly all of it — $399,267 — by the end of 2018, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Buttigieg had used Hitting Home — a hybrid version of a super PAC and traditional PAC — to send donations of up to $2,000 mostly to Democrats running for Congress in Republican-held districts, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The PAC spent $37,000 on those candidates in the 2018 cycle.

In a termination report filed Tuesday, the PAC reported raising nearly $6,000 in contributions in 2019.

"We've been winding down the PAC for a while, and as of today we filed the termination papers," said Chris Meagher, national press secretary for Buttigieg's 2020 campaign.

By far the biggest contribution to Hitting Home came from Buttigieg's DNC election effort, which rolled $154,000 into the PAC in August 2018. But Buttigieg won hefty donations to the PAC from an array of prominent figures.

The top single contribution of $50,000 came from Christel DeHaan, the German-born co-founder of Resort Condominiums International who was reportedly worth $940 million in 2018.

Michael Browning, entrepreneur and chairman of the board of Browning Investments, chipped in $5,000 to the PAC. So did Robert Schiff of global consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Other donors included Indiana-based philanthropist Cynthia Simon Skjodt, whose father co-founded shopping mall giant Simon Property Group; Thomas Black, founding partner of law firm Black, Mann & Graham; and a former designer for social media network Pinterest.

In the 2020 Democratic "money primary," many of the top contenders have already shunned PAC money.

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have all vowed to reject corporate PAC donations to their campaigns. So have former Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

In February, Warren took her pledge a step further, promising not to hold high-dollar fundraisers or make personal calls to wealthy donors to ask for their support. "My presidential primary campaign will be run on the principle of equal access for anybody who joins it," Warren wrote in a Medium post at the time.

It's unclear if these pledges will make a difference in the race, however.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged as the clear frontrunner in recent opinion polls, attended a ritzy fundraiser in Pennsylvania on the same day he announced his campaign at the home of David Cohen, senior executive vice president of Comcast, the parent company of NBC News.

Biden's campaign later announced it had raised $6.3 million in its first 24 hours, topping all other Democrats' day-one hauls.