By Steven Gelman
BU News Service
CONCORD, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg spoke briefly about his time at a management consulting firm before deflecting questions about his work there at a New Hampshire Public Radio forum in Concord Friday morning.
“I strongly believe in transparency,” Buttigieg said. “I also believe that [McKinsey & Company] should release the client list of the clients that I served.”
Buttigieg was employed by the prestigious, secretive firm for nearly two and a half years and came under fire recently for his lack of transparency on what he was doing during that time. This is partially due to a non-disclosure agreement he signed before leaving the company in 2010.
Buttigieg said that although he valued his experiences at the firm, what really fired him up was public service, citing his decisions to run for elected office and join the Navy Reserve.
“It’s certainly a part of my background that is useful in understanding the business world, but the bulk of my adult life has been in serving my city and serving my country,” he said.
Buttigieg’s comments come one day after the New York Times Editorial Board wrote an opinion piece calling on the candidate to be more transparent.
“This is not a tenable situation. Mr. Buttigieg owes voters a more complete account of his time at the company,” the board said.
Buttigieg pointed out the “amoral turn of mind that increasingly dominates corporate America,” specifically referring to his old firm’s work with U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to save money at detention centers, which involved shortages of food and medicine for those detained, according to a co-published report by the New York Times and ProPublica.
“No matter how nice the people are in corporate America, it’s up to us as a democracy to set the rules, the left and right boundaries, the guard rails for them to operate in,” Buttigieg said.
Peter Sands, a dermatologist from Concord, came to the forum to determine whether or not to throw his support behind Buttigieg, Booker or Klobuchar. Sands was particularly interested in what Buttigieg had to say about McKinsey.
“I was impressed by Butttigieg saying that he wants them to tell who his clients were so he can address it,” Sands said. “His answers are always well thought out and well balanced.”
Friday morning’s discussion was the fifth in a series of 2020 primary candidate forums led by New Hampshire Public Radio’s (NHPR) Laura Knoy and Lauren Chooljian that aim to inform New Hampshire residents about the field of presidential candidates before the New Hampshire primary.
“Having a full hour to speak with each candidate really gives us a chance to delve into issues important to the people of New Hampshire — the issues and potential policy decisions that impact their everyday lives,” Patricia McLaughlin, director of Communications and Marketing for NHPR said in an email after the show.
Scott Brown, a retired Air Force officer from Franklin, N.H., has been to multiple NHPR primary candidate forums and believes they are a valuable opportunity for people in New England to see how the candidates behave in a smaller, more personal setting.
“I think this is a great opportunity that NHPR and New Hampshire PBS provide, I’d like to see it done across the country. It certainly helps people here in New Hampshire and the New England area to find out more about the candidates — what makes them tick.”