Buttigieg, Warren debate money, influence

Wine caves don’t win purity tests, but can they win an election?

Perhaps the reference to the wine cave wasn’t the best look for Mayor Pete, but he bounced back from it pretty well. It was the slugfest everyone was waiting for, between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at the sixth Democratic debate in Los Angeles.

Polls, including one from Iowa State University-Civiqs, have Buttigieg leading the pack in Iowa at 24 percent of the vote, trailed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 21 percent, and Warren at 18. Former vice president Joe Biden was fourth at 15 percent. 

After remaining out of the fray for most of the first five debates, Buttigieg decided to come out swinging, tussling with Warren over her “purity tests,” namely her stance that candidates should be raising money from grassroots donations, not through high-priced exclusive fundraisers.

Buttigieg, 37, recently had such an event in Napa Valley, something Warren pointed out. “The mayor just held a fundraiser in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine — think about who comes to that,” Warren said. “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.” 

Warren’s decision to denounce traditional closed-door fundraisers was met with initial skepticism, but her campaign’s fundraising game has not suffered, with the 70-year-old senator raising $24.6 million in the past quarter, making her second to Sanders on that front.

Buttigieg had a comeback ready. “I am literally the only person on the stage who is not a millionaire or billionaire,” Buttigieg said. “This is the problem with issuing purity tests that you yourself cannot pass. If I pledge to never be in the presence of a progressive Democratic donor, I could not be up here. Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine.”

He added, for good measure: “I’m not going to turn away anyone who wants us to help defeat Donald Trump,” he said.

“I do not sell access to my time,” said Warren.

“As of when Senator?” Buttigieg retorted.

“If you want to donate to me fine, but don’t come around later asking to be named ambassador. Because that’s what goes on in these high-dollar fundraisers,” Warren said.

Buttigieg pointed out Warren’s campaign account contains money acquired long ago by those very same standards, specifically $10 million raised while she was running for Senate.

“Did it corrupt you, senator? Of course not,” Buttigieg said. “So to denounce the same kind of fundraising guidelines that President Obama went by, that Speaker Pelosi goes by, that you yourself went by until not long ago to build the Democratic Party and build a campaign ready for the fight of our lives — these purity tests shrink the stakes of the most important election.”

Is his point a good one? President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee bagged $125 million in the third quarter of this year. On impeachment day, he pocketed another $5 million. In a system that relies heavily on the existing infrastructure of big money in politics, Trump is rapidly out-fundraising the top Democratic candidates. 

Despite the well-intended structural overhaul that Warren is proposing, and now personally living in her campaign, the money question will eventually become one of the main factors in who can beat the president.

SARAH BETANCOURT 


BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo says a lot of work remains on building a consensus on housing legislation. (CommonWealth)

 Howie Carr blisters Gov. Charlie Baker over his embrace of a regional fee on gasoline wholesalers five years after he supported repeal of a measure indexing the state gas tax to inflation. (Boston Herald) Kathleen Theoharides, the governor’s point person on the regional effort, says New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s quick exit was not a surprise. (State House News)

Shirley Leung wonders where the normally cautious Baker is as the governor puts sale of the Hynes Auditorium on a fast track without much due diligence. (Boston Globe

Rep. Jennifer Benson of Lunenburg, the House chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, is stepping down to take the top job at the Alliance for Business Leadership, a position that opened up when Jesse Mermell launched a bid for US Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s seat. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

As expected, Boston has renamed a section of Roxbury Nubian Square. (WBUR) WGBH looks more broadly at efforts around the city to rename areas to reflect the ethnicities of those who live there. 

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine founded by Billy Graham, said in a bluntly-worded editorial that President Trump should be removed from office, declaring the facts in the impeachment case “unambiguous.” Gov. Charlie Baker, however, refuses to say what he thinks. (MassLive)

Big victory for Sen. Ed Markey: The Senate passes and sends to President Trump legislation that would crack down on robocalls. (Associated Press)

Celtics center Enes Kanter’s human rights activism has put him under the glare of autocratic Turkey, restricting his international travel, so he plans to ask Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether he can join his team to take on the Toronto Raptors on Christmas Day. (WBUR) 

ELECTIONS

State auditors announced that auto parts dealer Roy Andrade, president of Everett’s Auto Parts, admitted to providing company employees with $6,000 to make donations to mayoral candidates of his choosing during the 2019 Democratic primary. (The Enterprise) 

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Lots of big companies in the state are opting for private insurance coverage for mandated paid family and medical leave, a situation that could leave the state fund that smaller employers are leaning toward uncapitalized. (Boston Globe

Sen. Diana DiZoglio wants to ban the use of billboards to promote pot shops. (Salem News

IMMIGRATION

Seven immigrants were improperly denied drivers license renewals at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. An RMV spokesperson said the agency is addressing the problem. (CommonWealth)

After Trust Act signing, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross becomes defensive about past collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (CommonWealth)

EDUCATION

Stephen Zrike, the receiver and superintendent overseeing the Holyoke school system, says he plans to step down after five years on the job. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Partners HealthCare announces plans to open four new or expanded outpatient centers in Westwood, Westborough, Woburn, and Salem, New Hampshire. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION 

There’s pushback on MassDOT’s plan to rebuild and reorient the Turnpike in Allston by constructing a Soldiers Field Road bypass out over the Charles River. Several groups pitch the idea of eliminating Soldiers Field Road all together or paring back lanes on the Turnpike. (CommonWealth)

Car sharing is becoming the latest battleground in the gig economy, with a company called Turo facing off locally against Enterprise and Massport. (MassLive) 

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The state gambling commission asked its staff to prepare documents to seek information from experts on a possible fourth Massachusetts casino in the southeast part of the state. (Boston Globe)

Cape Ann will have its first pot shop in March if Happy Valley Ventures opens according to plan. (Gloucester Daily Times

A retail marijuana shop proposed for Provincetown received final approval from the state Cannabis Control Commission on Thursday and plans to be the first recreational dispensary to open on Cape Cod. (Cape Cod Times) 

ENVIRONMENT

Despite vocal opposition stemming from environmental concerns, the Somerset Zoning Board of Appeals approved Commercial Development Company’s petition to allow a salt storage business and scrap metal company to operate on Brayton Point with a set of operating restrictions. (Herald News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Internal Revenue Service agent James Clarke was found guilty of raping a 21-year-old intern in a 2017 attack in a downtown Boston parking garage. (Boston Globe

John and Joanne Wachira allegedly bilked Medicaid out of $500,000 by providing free housing to homeless people in exchange for them falsely claiming the couple’s company provided them with health services. (Lowell Sun

Former golf pro Kevin Kennedy Jr. is charged with siphoning money from two golf courses owned by the city of Springfield. (MassLive)

MEDIA 

Media critic Dan Kennedy explains why a lawsuit against a Black Lives Matter activist threatens the First Amendment. (Media Nation)