Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg came under fire this weekend after his campaign allegedly cobbled together a list of 400 black South Carolinians who'd supposedly endorsed both Buttigieg and his newly released plan for racial equality – except that apparently, they hadn’t.
"There is one presidential candidate who has proven to have intentional policies designed to make a difference in the Black experience, and that's Pete Buttigieg. We are over 400 South Carolinians, including business owners, pastors, community leaders, and students. Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate," the statement claimed, as put out by Buttigieg’s campaign.
Buttigieg has struggled heavily with low support from the black community, after being accused of pandering for their support while failing to solve race relations between minority communities and white police officers in his own city. The Democratic mayor has also been criticized for firing South Bend’s first African American police chief shortly after being elected in 2012.
In an attempt to bridge the gap with black voters, Buttigieg rolled out his 18-page “Douglass plan,” named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which includes a slew of government promises like awarding one-quarter of all government contracts to minority-run businesses and cutting the nation’s prison population in half.
But according to reports, all three of the black politicians who supposedly signed on to endorse Buttigieg said they’d never done any such thing. In addition, two of them they'd never endorsed his Douglass plan.
"I didn't know about [the statement's] rolling out,” state Rep. Ivory Thigpen told The Intercept after she realized her name had been included in the list of supposed Buttigieg endorsers. “Somebody brought it to my attention, and it was alarming to me, because even though I had had conversations with the campaign, it was clear to me, or at least I thought I made it clear to them, that I was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter — actually co-chair of the state, and I was not seeking to endorse their candidate or the plan. But what I had talked about was potentially giving them a quote of support in continuing the conversation, because I do think it's a very important conversation.”
Johnnie Cordero, chair of the state party's Black Caucus, said that Buttigieg’s campaign had reached out to him asking for feedback on the Douglass plan, but that he hadn’t endorsed it.
"I never endorsed that plan. I don't know how my name got on there. No, that's not true: I know how my name got on there," Cordero said.
After digging further into the Buttigieg camp’s claim, the Intercept discovered another disturbing tidbit about the supposed 400-person endorsement: nearly half of them – 42 percent, in fact, were white.
On top of that, the campaign had used a stock photo from Kenya to accompany their statement.
(Cover Photo: Gage Skidmore)