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Buttigieg discloses ex-clients as fundraising swing begins

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Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign stop at the Danceland Ballroom Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Davenport. (Meg McLaughlin/The Dispatch - The Rock Island Argus via AP)

NEW YORK, NY – Facing intense pressure to answer questions about his work in the private sector, Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday disclosed a roster of former consulting clients that include a major health insurance provider, a nationwide electronics retailer, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Defense.

He also opened a big-dollar fundraiser for the first time to the media, a change of heart he later admitted “took a little getting used to” but was “the right thing to do.”

Buttigieg's campaign released the details while the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, attended an evening fundraiser on Park Avenue in Manhattan. It was the first event on a five-day fundraising swing that features 10 meetings with big donors, and the first time he allowed the media to cover fundraising events that had previously been kept secret.

Speaking on MSNBC later Tuesday night, Buttigieg said that the decision to open his fundraisers — which he had previously resisted — took some “getting used to because traditionally campaigns haven't generally done this." Former Vice President Joe Biden has opened his fundraisers to the press, while neither Sens. Elizabeth Warren nor Bernie Sanders holds big-dollar fundraisers.

Buttigieg added: "I think it makes sense. We're talking a lot about transparency in this campaign. We've got a president who’s moved in the exact wrong direction in terms of transparency."

Walking into his Tuesday night fundraiser, Buttigieg told The Associated Press he's "seeking to live out the values of transparency that we talk about, and given that we have a White House that has so moved radically in the opposite direction.”

His work history, never before revealed, features a detailed list of the clients he worked for when he was an associate at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. between 2007 and 2010, his first job after graduating from Oxford. In a press release announcing the disclosure, Buttigieg downplayed his role in the firm, saying he had released details of his work there “even though it was my first job out of school where I had little decision making authority.” On MSNBC, Buttigieg downplayed the McKinsey work, saying that there's “nothing particularly sizzling about the clients I released.”

His campaign said Buttigieg’s work included trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during a three-month project in 2009 for the U.S. Department of Defense. That project, he said, was focused on “increasing employment and entrepreneurship.”