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Pete Buttigieg touts plan to give 25 percent of federal contracts to minorities — as mayor, he gave 3 percent
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg touts plan to give 25 percent of federal contracts to minorities — as mayor, he gave 3 percent

Empty promises?

Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has surged into the lead in recent Iowa and New Hampshire primary polls, touts a plan to give 25 percent of federal contracting money to minorities if elected president. But, in his current position as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he has given only 3 percent city contracts to minority-owned businesses.

The initiative is part of Buttigieg's Douglass Plan: A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America, which Buttigieg says will "dismantle old systems and structures that inhibit prosperity and builds new ones that will unlock the collective potential of Black America."

On his campaign website, Buttigieg promises to "launch the Walker-Lewis Promise to aim to award 25% of federal contracting dollars to small business owners from underserved communities in urban and rural areas," citing the current 10 percent rate for minority-owned firms and 5 percent rate for women-owned firms.

But a recent article by The Intercept reports that as mayor of South Bend Buttigieg has failed to deliver anywhere near the 25 percentage mark he promises to implement on a national scale.

The article highlights how in a 2015 report released by the mayor's office, only 1.2 percent of the city's purchases went to contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses. In 2016, the number was 1.7 percent; in 2017, it was 1.9 percent; and in 2018, it rose to a whopping 2.8 percent.

As mayor, Buttigieg made it a priority to improve South Bend's reputation of lacking diversity among its business partners, a city with a much significantly higher black population than the national average — 26.4 percent black compared to 13.4 percent.

He put several initiatives in motion toward this aim, using his first executive order in 2016 to create the city's Office of Diversity and Inclusion and commissioning a profile on wealth inequality and race in South Bend in 2017, the article notes.

Buttigieg's campaign has cited that as mayor his office used a different metric to analyze the distribution of city contracts to minorities, which included subcontractors and did not include contracts under $50,000.

With this metric, Buttigieg's office allegedly found that 12 percent of the city's contract dollars went to minority-owned businesses.

Is Buttigieg running into trouble with black support?

Buttigieg, hyping the Douglass plan in effort to win over black support, has come under scrutiny recently for allegedly exaggerating his support from the black community.

Last week, Buttigieg's campaign was accused of lying about black support in South Carolina in regards to a misleading news release.

The campaign had published a news release in the HBCU Times, an outlet catered toward black educational institutions, that listed three black leaders who the campaign claimed supported Buttigieg and the Douglass plan, along with a list of hundreds of other supporters.

But after the news release was circulated, according to our reporting, "the three leaders listed said their stance on Buttigieg and the plan had been misrepresented, and at least 40 percent of the names listed as supporters are white, with even some of those being from outside South Carolina."

Buttigieg has only 2 percent support among blacks according to an average of national polls, the Hill reports.

Despite leading in recent Iowa and New Hampshire primary polls, Buttigieg still trails Democratic frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden in national polling.

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