Elizabeth Warren Swears Off Cozying Up to Big-Money Donors

Photo: John Locher (AP)

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on Monday that she will swear off one of the usual hallmarks of presidential campaign fundraising: the exclusive fundraising events that allow big-dollar donors to rub shoulders with the candidate.

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In her letter to supporters, Warren wrote she does not want to be beholden to wealthy donors who leveraged big contributions for access:

Even when the candidate’s heart is in the right place and the donor is well-intentioned, that time creates a direct relationship between wealth and access to our political leaders. I believe that’s wrong: The amount of money you can give shouldn’t determine the amount of time you get to spend with a candidate.

Good! Warren knows she stands to lose more than she might gain by putting herself in the morally compromising situations required to curry favor with mega-donors. This also sets a benchmark for Warren’s competitors in the 2020 field: meet her standard or get slammed on the debate stage as being too friendly with the monied elites.

Some reporters, though, pointed out that it might be a sign of something else: Warren doubling down on small-donor donations after a strong showing from Bernie Sanders’ campaign following his announcement.

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Sanders, for his part, will probably have no problem meeting Warren’s self-imposed donor purity standards, but in the time before he does Warren is likely hoping she can make up some ground. But campaign cynicism aside—keeping rich people as far away from presidential candidates as possible is a good thing, and Warren’s pledge will certainly help. It’ll be interesting to see which of her fellow candidates agree.

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About the author

Jack Crosbie

Contributing Writer, Splinter