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Pete Buttigieg Is Not Disclosing His Dark Money Donors

After his failed 2020 presidential run, Pete Buttigieg started a dark money group. It hasn’t disclosed its donors as promised.

Pete Buttigieg speaking with supporters of his presidential campaign at a town hall in Winterset, Iowa, in January 2020. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

A political advocacy group launched by Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg was bankrolled by at least seven six-figure dark money donations in 2020, according to new documents reviewed by us.

The new disclosure reveals the extent to which Buttigieg’s postpresidential campaign journey was financed by wealthy donors. Because the donors have not been publicly disclosed, it’s impossible to assess whether they may have any interests in matters related to the Transportation Department Buttigieg now leads or in the large new pool of infrastructure funds he gets to oversee.

After dropping out of the 2020 Democratic primary, Pete Buttigieg formed a political action committee called Win the Era, as well as a social welfare nonprofit called Win the Era Action Fund, which has funneled $1.9 million to the PAC since 2020 to use its email list and pay for some administrative costs.

While the nonprofit suggested last year it would start voluntarily disclosing its donors, it has not yet done so.

According to Win the Era Action Fund’s first tax return, obtained by us, the dark money group raised $2.1 million in 2020. The group raised $870,000 — or roughly 40 percent of that haul — from donors who gave at least six figures. The biggest donor gave $250,000. Another gave $120,000, and five other contributors each gave $100,000.

As we previously reported, Buttigieg wrote in his cabinet ethics pledge that he would not participate in any matter involving Win the Era, but he made no such pledge to recuse from matters involving big donors to the organization.

In April last year, Business Insider reported that Win the Era Action Fund would pivot to focus on issues including “climate change, economic justice, democracy reform, mental health, and national service.” The report added that the organization “plans to voluntarily disclose names of donors over $250.”

“Upon his nomination to serve as Secretary of Transportation in December 2020, Pete Buttigieg resigned from his affiliation with Win the Era effectively immediately,” a spokesperson for the group told us. “Since then, Swati Mylavarapu has served as President and Board Chair for Win the Era.”

Mylavarapu, a Silicon Valley Democratic fundraiser, served as the national finance chair for Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.