- Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign falsely said that three prominent black figures in South Carolina supported his Douglass Plan for Black America, according to a report from The Intercept.
- In late October, Buttigieg’s campaign released an article published in the HBCU Times praising the plan, citing an open letter on behalf of Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist pastor and state Rep. Ivory Thigpen, and Johnnie Cordero, chair of the state party’s Black Caucus, in addition to more than 400 Douglass Plan endorsers.
- But, The Intercept found, none of those three people actually supported Buttigieg as a candidate, and two of the three never endorsed his Douglass Plan.
- Additionally, at least 42 percent of the more than 400 supporters on the list are white.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign is facing criticism after some of the 400 South Carolinans who it said supported his Douglass Plan for Black America came out to dispute the way their names were published, The Intercept reported on Friday.
Throughout his campaign, and despite soaring to first place in a recent Iowa poll, Buttigieg has struggled to appeal to black voters. An October poll in The Charleston Post and Courier found that the South Bend, Indiana mayor had next to no black voter support in South Carolina, and only four percent support in the state overall.
In late October, amid efforts to win support among the black community, his campaign released an article published in the HBCU Times praising his Douglass Plan, citing an open letter on behalf of Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist pastor and state Rep. Ivory Thigpen, and Johnnie Cordero, chair of the state party’s Black Caucus, in addition to more than 400 Douglass Plan endorsers.
“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 HBCU Times article notes.
But, according to The Intercept, there’s a problem: none of those three prominent black politicians say they support Buttigieg as a candidate, and two of the three say they never explicitly allowed for a named endorsement of his Douglass plan.
Devine, who has yet to endorse a presidential candidate, told The Intercept that she believes the campaign was “intentionally vague” about the way her support for the plan was presented, adding that she did not intend for it to be viewed as an endorsement for Buttigieg. Meanwhile, both Thigpen and Cordero (who is no longer listed publicly as a supporter in the HBCU Times article) said they never even endorsed the plan to begin with.
“I didn’t know about its rolling out. 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,” Thigpen told The Intercept.
“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, telling The Intercept that Buttigieg’s staff reached out and asked for his feedback on the plan.
“It’s presumptuous to think you can come up with a plan for black America without hearing from black folk. There’s nothing in there that said black folk had anything to do with the drafting of that plan,” he added. “Now I like Pete, please don’t get me wrong. I’ll help him in any way I can. I think he’s an honest man, I think he’s a decent man, I think he has integrity. I’d like to see him keep running. But you don’t do that. Those days are over and done with. We’re tired of people telling us what we need. You wanna find out what we need? Come and ask us.”
The Buttigieg campaign told Business Insider in a statement that “our campaign is working to build a multi-racial coalition, and we sought and received input from numerous Black policy experts and advisers to create a comprehensive plan to dismantle systemic racism: the Douglass Plan. We asked a number of Black South Carolinians, as well as South Carolinians from many backgrounds, to support the Douglass Plan, and we are proud and grateful that hundreds agreed to do so.”
The Intercept discovered another surprising feature of the more than 400 supporters of the plan: at least 42 percent of them are white.
The Buttigieg campaign told The Intercept that it had sent the plan to the list of supporters and gave them the option of opting out if they didn’t want to be included. According to that email, the list was specifically supposed to represent “over 400 Black South Carolinians for the plan.”
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 15, 2019
“In the HBCU Times op-ed and in communications with the press, we’ve been clear that not every supporter of the plan is Black, and have never claimed otherwise in any public communication,” the Buttigieg campaign told Business Insider. “We never gave the impression publicly that these people were endorsing Pete, only that they supported the plan. After they indicated their support, we reached out to people multiple times giving them the opportunity to review the language of the op-ed and the option to opt-out. We did hear from people who weren’t comfortable being listed and we removed them.”
On Friday, The Intercept’s Ryan Grim noted an additional issue with how the Buttigieg campaign has promoted the plan:
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 15, 2019
Grim reported on Sunday that the woman featured in the photo was confused about her likeness being used by the Buttigieg campaign and that she had never heard about the Douglass Plan. He said the “Douglass Plan for Black America is now news in Kenya.”
Buttigieg’s campaign confirmed to Business Insider on Sunday that the photo of the Kenyan woman was no longer on the website. The campaign added that they no longer work with the contractor who selected the stock image, adding that the firm did not know the photo came from Africa.