Buttigieg to open fundraisers to press, publish names of top fundraisers

By Dan Merica and Donald Judd, CNN

(CNN) -- Pete Buttigieg's campaign will begin to allow the press to cover his high-dollar fundraisers, the campaign announced on Monday after some of his Democratic presidential opponents called on him to be more transparent about the time he spends with top donors.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor's campaign will also make the names of his so-called bundlers -- plugged in Democrats who help raise money for the campaigns -- public.

"In a continued commitment to transparency, we are announcing today that our campaign will open fundraisers to reporters and will release the names of people raising money for our campaign," said Mike Schmuhl, Buttigieg's campaign manager, in a statement. "Fundraising events with Pete will be open to press beginning tomorrow, and a list of people raising money for the campaign will be released within the week."

Buttigieg, more than any other Democratic candidate other than former Vice President Joe Biden, has spent a significant time on the campaign trail at top-dollar fundraisers, building a substantial campaign bank account that has helped fuel his unexpected rise from small city mayor to top tier Democratic presidential candidate.

But the mayor's rise has corresponded with more attention from his opponents like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has faulted Buttigieg for holding private events with top donors -- something she has not done during her presidential campaign -- and called on the mayor to open his future events to the press.

"The mayor should be releasing who's on his finance committee, who are the bundlers who are raising big money for him, who he's given titles to and made promises to, and he should open up the doors so that the press can follow the promises that he's making in these big dollar fundraisers," Warren said earlier this month, tying the call to rooting out corruption.

Buttigieg's campaign, days after those calls, now says he will open his once-private fundraisers.

"From the start, Pete has said it is important for every candidate to be open and honest, and his actions have reflected that commitment," Schmuhl said. "He is the only current presidential candidate who has released the names of people raising money for his campaign, and we will continue to release additional names as more people join our growing effort. Moreover, he will be one of the few candidates to allow reporters access to his fundraising events."

One reason for the pressure on Buttigieg has been the fact that Biden, the other candidate headlining numerous top-dollar events, has opened all of his fundraisers to a small group of reporters.

Buttigieg has headlined hundreds of private fundraisers in 2019, crisscrossing the nation to raise millions from wealthy Americans. In total, Buttigieg has raised over $51 million for his presidential campaign, including money raised online, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The mayor's aggressive fundraising will continue in the coming week, too: Buttigieg will headline 16 fundraisers in six states and Washington, DC, over the next seven days, according to invites obtained by CNN, including top dollar events in San Francisco, Seattle and Manhattan.

Buttigieg has long declined to open his fundraisers, with his campaign initially arguing that they didn't have the infrastructure to host press at these events.

"I'll leave the press policy to the folks on the press side, but we can talk about it," Buttigieg said in October.

As candidates pushed him on his use of top dollar fundraisers, Buttigieg got into a tense exchange with reporters when pressed on opening his events.

"There are a lot of considerations, and I'm thinking about it," Buttigieg said.

"Can you give us those considerations?" he was asked.

"No," he replied.

At another event, Buttigieg told CNN, "I just want to make sure we do it in the, you know, if we approach this, that we do it in the right way. The team's working through options and invite you to stay tuned in the coming days as we think about possible updates."

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