Pete Buttigieg’s issue with connecting to people of color has gotten so bad that his staffers are mad at him.
According to NewsOne, the South Bend mayor held a mandatory retreat on “diversity and inclusion” last month for his campaign and all its staff. Former and current staffers of color expressed disappointment in how that retreat, and the campaign as a whole, played out.
Specifically, the New York Times reports that staffers of color felt unheard during the “diversity” retreat. One staffer expressed the feeling of being a quota hire in order for the campaign to meet “its ambitious diversity targets.” Hispanic and Latinx staffers also expressed feeling disrespected to ask to translate Spanish information, even if they didn’t speak the language. Many also felt wronged by being asked to explain for Buttigieg’s lack of Black and Latinx support.
Staffers have also expressed grievances at Buttigieg’s suspicious political ties. For instance, one staffer shared the story of Buttigieg receiving a donation from and co-hosting an event with someone who tried to suppress the video of a cop shooting a Black Chicago teen. The campaign only cut ties with the donor, and returned their donation, “at the last minute, amid an outcry.”
Two veteran presidential campaign advisors, including Donna Brazile, told the Times that the situation surrounding Buttigieg’s campaign was unusual, especially “so close to the start of voting.”
“I’ve never heard of anything like this… not in ’08 and never in 2016,” Brazile added.
In response to all of the complaints, Buttigieg released a statement expressing pride that the staffers felt empowered in voicing their criticisms.
“That may not be something that’s typical or has happened a lot before in presidential campaigns, to try to empower staffers at all levels to be able to speak to their concerns and experiences, to raise concerns and to have these tough conversations,” Buttigieg said after a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa. “And they are tough.”