Pete Buttigieg accepted $250,000 and gifts from mayoral campaign donors who were later awarded $33million in city contracts, raising concerns of ‘pay to play’ as Transportation Secretary doles out $210billion in infrastructure plan

Daily Mail

Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg’s top political donors received millions of dollars in city contracts after giving thousands to his campaigns while he was mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Buttigieg’s political action committees took money from 23 companies who then got jobs from South Bend’s Board of Public Works whose members he appointed, documents obtained by reveal.

On two occasions, the former presidential candidate received donations the same day the companies were awarded contracts.

Other city contractors gifted the mayor cigars, alcohol and golf trips worth hundreds of dollars.

The companies, their executives and spouses donated a total $253,750 to Buttigieg’s campaigns, and received a total of at least $33,310,426 in city contracts between 2011 and 2019.

American Structurepoint $35,850 $790,177
Bradley Company $11,790 Part of a $6M development project and leasing agreements with the city*
Abe Marcus/Ivy Tower $25,360 Part of a $7M public-private partnership to develop commercial buildings*
DLZ Indiana $14,150 $885,030
Lawson-Fisher Associates $13,610 $1,342,590
Troyer Group $9,000 $1,772,344
Arcadis $10,150 $1,879,283
Christopher M Burke Engineering $7,600 $86,000
Jones Petrie Rafinski $6,550 $922,280
McCormick Engineering $450 $110,385
Selge Construction $4,250 $4,049,996
HRP Construction $2,770 $4,438,289
Pyramid Equipment $4,100 $434,207
Peerless Midwest $3,200 $532,763
EnFocus $8,970 $285,000
United Consulting $27,835 $558,420
Abonmarche $12,870 $616,790
Walsh & Kelly $8,100 $7,668,822
Lochmueller Group $22,600 $1,105,050
Donohue & Associates $12,045 $433,000
Earth Designs $6,000 $400,000
Panzica Building Corporation $3,000 $5,000,000
Matthews LLC $3,500 Part of a $4.9M contract to develop a nine-story building for apartments, a grocery store, and a parking garage*
TOTAL  $253,750 At least $33,310,426 
* = not included in total

After Buttigieg appointed one former company executive to city’s Public Works department, the firm was then handed multiple infrastructure jobs, and became one of Mayor Pete’s largest donors.

Buttigieg served as the mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020. He was appointed transportation secretary by President Joe Biden early last year.

Government watchdogs say the pattern of donations and contracts could present the appearance of a ‘pay to play’ scandal – and raises concerns over the $210billion earmarked in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Buttigieg to dish out in discretionary grants as transport secretary, part of a $1.2trillion budget.

‘The pattern of contracts and donations appears to be a huge conflict of interest,’ Taxpayers Protection Alliance president David Williams told

‘This really doesn’t bode well for the secretary of transportation when he has access to almost $1.2trillion in infrastructure money.

‘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.

‘Was there a quid pro quo? Was there some sort of backroom deal for these projects? taxpayers deserve answers.’

The City of South Bend told that Buttigieg ‘was not involved in the awarding of engineering and construction contracts’ and that all contracts are awarded ‘through a professional procurement process that is public and transparent’, and given ‘to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder per State Law’.

The Department of Transport said they have ‘consistently made transparency and accountability to the American people a top priority’ and that the federal grant money in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law awards funding to cities, states, ports, and local entities, not contractors.

The spokesperson told any suggestion of corruption in Buttigieg’s US government department was ‘absurd’.

The former Indiana mayor, 40, cultivated close relationships with construction firms during his tenure in South Bend, which became a large source of funding for his political campaigns.

In 2011 a co-owner of Indiana infrastructure firm American Structurepoint, Marlin Knowles, gave $1,500 to Buttigieg’s mayoral campaign.

In November 2012, two months after meeting with representatives of the company in his office, Mayor Pete announced former American Structurepoint executive Eric Horvath as director of the South Bend Department of Public Works.

Horvath is also currently listed on the city’s website as ‘Executive Director, Board of Public Works’. The Board of Public Works (BPW) is a separate city committee responsible for granting public money for large construction jobs.

A spokesman for South Bend said Horvath ‘is not and has never been a member’ of the BPW – though its meeting minutes show Horvath attends its meetings.

The following year, American Structurepoint was awarded a contract for the South Bend Smart Streets Project, which had a total budget of $25million.

Between January 2014 and March 2019, senior executive vice president at the company, Greg Henneke, donated $31,850 to Mayor Pete’s campaigns.

Over the same period, the company was awarded more than $790,000 in city contracts by the BPW, whose members Buttigieg appointed.

American Structurepoint was given $98,860 in two contracts on February 14, 2017, just one day after Henneke donated $1,000 to Buttigieg’s campaign to become Democratic National Committee chair, Pete For DNC.

A spokesman for South Bend said all construction projects ‘are bid through a professional procurement process that is public and transparent when approved by the Board of Public Works, which is a separate 5-member citizen board that approves City contracts and is governed by state law.’

‘Public Works construction projects are publicly bid through the BPW and are awarded to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder per State Law. Engineering contracts are also approved by the Board of Public Works during open public meetings,’ mayoral communications director Caleb Bauer said.

‘Each of the firms named are well-respected and have a reputation locally for delivering high quality services for the city and South Bend residents.’

Schedules from Buttigieg’s mayoral office show several of his largest donors regularly enjoyed face to face access with him and were invited to holiday parties and other events.

In 2011 construction company DLZ Indiana donated $750 to Buttigieg’s mayoral campaign, and the next year invited him to a golf outing and a ‘holiday open house’ the company hosted.

Then in 2013, the city hired DLZ for a study into converting four downtown streets to two-way.

After Buttigieg attended another DLZ golf luncheon in July 2013, the company was awarded the bid for construction worth $113,000.

DLZ continued to donate to Buttigieg’s campaigns, with $4,200 in 2014 as well as a gift of $700 worth of alcohol and cigars.

The firm’s subsidiary DLZ Industrial LLC gave a further $600 to the mayor’s campaign in August 2016, and a month later DLZ Indiana was awarded a $17,430 contract from the BPW.

In February 2017 DLZ Industrial gave $5,000 to Pete For DNC, and a slew of further contracts followed.

The same month, they received two jobs totaling $218,900, and in March, April and May that year they were approved for a further $276,110 of city contracts.

After the half-million dollars of city jobs were awarded, DLZ gave Buttigieg’s campaign another $1,600 and took him on a $250 golf trip.

That fall, the BPW approved three more contracts worth $94,090.

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3 thoughts on “Pete Buttigieg accepted $250,000 and gifts from mayoral campaign donors who were later awarded $33million in city contracts, raising concerns of ‘pay to play’ as Transportation Secretary doles out $210billion in infrastructure plan

  1. One more case of a cartoon character being entrusted with our money. Alfred E. Neuman is MAD!! They all are!! Even if they fix the roads, they torture the people who drive on them.


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