Amid mounting pressure, Buttigieg calls on McKinsey consulting firm to release his past client list

Democratic presidential hopeful Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg speaks on stage at "First in the West" event in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2019. Copyright Bridget Bennett AFP - Getty Images file
By Adam Edelman with NBC News Politics
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The 2020 hopeful has faced growing calls to be more transparent about his time at the global consulting company.


Pete Buttigieg on Friday called on McKinsey & Company, the international consulting firm where he worked for nearly three years, to release his list of clients at the company.

Buttigieg's request for his former employer to release the list comes as pressure mounts on the 2020 Democratic candidate to be more transparent about his years at McKinsey, amid news stories about the consulting firm's work with controversial clients like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a federal agency that handles immigration enforcement and deportations.

In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio on Friday, Buttigieg said he felt "that McKinsey should release the client list of the clients that I served."

"It's something they can do," said the South Bend mayor, who worked at McKinsey from 2007-2010. Buttigeig explained that he'd signed a nondisclosure agreement at the firm under which "you promise to keep your client information confidential."

"But right now I am calling on McKinsey to release that information. Maybe they're not used to doing that, but they're not used to having somebody who used to work there being seriously considered for the American presidency," Buttigieg said. "This information should come up and I'm happy to speak to it when it does.".

Buttigieg's latest comments came one day after The New York Times published an editorialcalling on him to reveal more information about his time at McKinsey, including who his clients there were — either by way of having the company release him from his nondisclosure agreement, or by agreeing to a "more permissive" arrangement.

Earlier in the week, The Times reported on how McKinsey had advised the Trump administration on how to carry out out its crackdown on immigrants, including providing guidance on "detention savings opportunities" that would help the agency save money by housing detainees in cheaper ways.

When asked by a reporter about Buttigieg's work at McKinsey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of Buttigieg's main challengers for the Democratic nomination, was asked about the mayor's involvement with McKinsey at an event Thursday night, chose to call out her rival for his private fundraising events, not specifically his time at the consulting company.

"I think that voters want to know about possible conflicts of interests," she said. "It is even more important that the candidates expose possible conflicts of interests right now."

In addition, four immigration advocacy groups have called on Buttigieg to return campaign contributions made by McKinsey employees.

Buttigieg, for his part, told New Hampshire Public Radio Friday that the reports of McKinsey's dealings with ICe were "disgusting" and evidence of the "amoral turn of mind that increasingly dominates corporate America."

Later Friday, during a discussion with New Hampshire voters, Buttigieg responded to a question about his time with McKinsey by saying that, "What I did at McKinsey was consulted for clients and my specialties including grocery pricing, and part of it is publicly available because I worked on a project to fight climate change that involved energy efficiency."

In an interview with NBC News a day earlier, Buttigieg said he had no regrets about his time at McKinsey.

He responded "no," when asked if he had regrets about representing any of his clients, about whether he'd ever represented a foreign government, and about whether he'd ever represented a pharmaceutical company.

He said his job at the firm "mostly consisted of preparing spreadsheets and PowerPoints."

NBC News has reached out to McKinsey directly about Buttigieg's work there.

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