President Biden’s Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, is in some hot water after a report was made concerning his position as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg served that city as mayor from 2012 to 2020 and then jumped into the race for the presidency in the Democratic Party.
The problem is that a whole bunch of political donors in the South Bend area received millions of dollars in contracts after they made significant donations to Buttigieg’s campaign. This has raised major red flags about “pay to play” deals that were made and what could be happening now that he is handing out funds for the national infrastructure package.
While Buttigieg served as mayor, there were at least 23 companies that were later given over $33 million in contracts for city projects, this is according to a report by the Daily Mail. These companies, through their executives and spouses, gave a total of $253,750 to Buttigieg’s campaigns and received approximately $33,280,426 in contracts between 2011 and 2019.
Here’s something even worse, two companies were given contracts by the South Bend Board of Public Works on the same day as they donated to Buttigieg’s campaign. The mayor had a seat on this board.
Mayor Buttigieg was also given gifts like cigars, alcohol, and trips by companies that were given contracts, according to Daily Mail’s report.
One firm in Indiana, American Structurepoint, was given almost $800,000 in contracts that included a sewer project. The same company donated over $35,000 to Buttigieg campaigns. Other construction firms like Bradley Company and Abe Marcus/ Ivy Tower followed suit. They were given multimillion-dollar contracts for development projects and they each had made donations in the thousands to the mayor’s campaign. DLS Indiana, an architectural firm, was given a contract for over $885,000 in contracts right after they donated $14,150.
Now, some people are questioning what could be taking place in Washington as Buttigieg is getting ready to give $210 billion to companies across America through President Biden’s infrastructure legislation.
David Williams from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance said, “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. This really doesn’t bode well for the secretary of transportation when he has access to almost $1.2 trillion in infrastructure money.”
Certainly, the pattern that was set in Indians could mean there is a big conflict of interest warranted.
Officials from South Bend responded to the media saying that Buttigieg was not involved in awarding contracts for engineering and construction. They said that the contracts were always awarded to the lowest and most responsible firm that was bidding, according to state law.
But it is hard not to focus on what happened to people like Marlin Knowles. He was the co-owner of American Structurepoint and gave $1,500 to Buttigieg’s mayoral campaign in 2011. Just two months later, Buttigieg announced that Eric Horwath, an executive of the same company would become the director of the Department of Public Works for South Bend. This position grants taxpayer money for construction jobs. And within a year, American Structurepoint was given a contract for the South Bend Smart Streets Project. This project had a $25 million budget.
The US Department of Transportation responded to this story saying that they have “consistently made transparency and accountability to the American people a top priority.”
The Director of Advocacy for Transparency International believes that the pattern that Buttigieg has set for receiving money from companies that have been given contracts carries an “obvious stench.” He also indicated how “stunned” he is that the laws of Indiana allowed for such a conflict.
Another wheel may be coming off of Biden’s presidency as stories like this are being uncovered about his cabinet.