Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is caught up in a budding pay-to-play scandal that occurred while he was mayor of South Bend.
An investigation done by the Dailymail discovered that Buttigieg received over $250,000 in donations from 23 companies and the top donors were awarded millions in city contracts. On two occasions donations were received on the same day the companies were given the contracts.
The companies, their executives and spouses donated a total $253,750 to Buttigieg’s campaigns, and received a total of at least $33,310,426 in city contracts between 2011 and 2019.
After Buttigieg appointed one former company executive to the city’s Public Works department, the firm was then handed multiple infrastructure jobs and became one of Mayor Pete’s largest donors.
Buttigieg served as the mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020. He was appointed transportation secretary by President Joe Biden early last year.
Government watchdogs say the pattern of donations and contracts could present the appearance of a “pay to play” scandal – and raises concerns over the $210billion earmarked in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Buttigieg to dish out in discretionary grants as transport secretary, part of a $1.2trillion budget.
Watchdog groups like the Taxpayers Protection Alliance group are alarmed at the number of contracts given to high-profile Buttigieg donors.
“This is alarming, and very concerning, because this is the swamp personified. You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to look at this and think that something’s wrong here,” said Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams.
“The pattern of contracts and donations appears to be a huge conflict of interest. Was there a quid pro quo? Was there some sort of backroom deal for these projects? taxpayers deserve answers,” Williams added.
Meanwhile, the city of South Bend is claiming that Buttigieg had nothing to do with any of the awarded contracts. The city also claimed that it was a coincidence that $33 million in city contracts went to top Buttigieg donors.