Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has received over $9,000 from foreign-linked lobbyists, including over $7,000 from active foreign agents, a National Interest investigation has found.
Buttigieg, who has come under heavy scrutiny for his lobbyist connections, promised back in April to refund $30,0250 in lobbyist donations from thirty-nine individuals. His campaign did return some of the donations that it received from foreign agents, but Buttigieg broke his promise when he decided to keep at least five thousand dollars from a registered foreign agent, the National Interest found.
“We do not accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists, corporate PACs or the fossil fuel industry—and all registered agents have previously been refunded,” Buttigieg’s campaign told the National Interest in an email. “As President, Pete will enact critical campaign finance reforms to restore faith in our Democracy, including strengthening the [Federal Election Commission] and pushing to overturn Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo.”
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, also known as FARA, any person or company that performs political activities in the United States—such as lobbying, public relations, or propaganda—on behalf of a foreign entity must register with the U.S. government as a foreign agent.
And under federal election law, all candidates must file the name, address, job, and employer of anyone who donates more than two hundred dollars with the Federal Election Commission. The last quarterly deadline to file this information was September 30.
“Nobody is confessing to making these contributions on behalf of a foreign government or a foreign client,” said Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. “What we found, historically, is that there’s definitely a very strong correlation between who [lobbyists] meet with on behalf of their clients, and who they’re making contributions to.”
“It’s almost like a bet, a bet you're placing on future influence,” Freeman told the National Interest. “If that candidate ends up winning, then you’re on the record as being a donor to that campaign, who helped them get there.”