Elizabeth Warren hoped to reboot her flailing campaign with an attack on Pete Buttigieg’s fundraising, but it might end up kicking her to the curb instead. After heaping scorn on Mayor Pete’s “wine cave full of crystals” big-ticket fundraising event, it turned out that Warren had a few wine-cellar events of her own. Today, the Washington Post reminds readers that Warren used to excel at the same kind of wealthy fundraiser events she excoriates now … right up until this year, in fact:
Chase Williams grinned broadly as he stood for a photo next to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, chatting briefly with the senator from Massachusetts before moving on so someone else could have their turn.
It was the kind of moment that has become a ubiquitous part of Warren’s presidential campaign and its long “selfie lines,” where supporters wait for hours to pose with her at no charge.
But this shot, taken in October 2017, was at an entirely different kind of event: an exclusive “backstage” reception that took place in the vault of a former Cleveland bank. And that was the day’s low-rent affair — donors who agreed to pay more attended an even more exclusive shindig with Warren that day, according to two people familiar with her schedule.
The events were part of a high-dollar fundraising program that Warren had embraced her entire political career, from her first Senate run in 2011 through her reelection last year. Warren was so successful at it that she was able to transfer $10 million of her Senate cash to help launch her presidential bid.
The best aspect of this Washington Post exposé is that it came out on Christmas Eve. Warren can reserve some hope that most people won’t bother to keep up with the news today. Of course, the down side is that there isn’t much other news in the presidential primaries today, and that means those who are paying attention will get a full dose of the accusation of hypocrisy.
And boy, does the Washington Post deliver on that score. Annie Linskey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee get the aforementioned Chase Williams to call Warren out for claiming that “this isn’t something I do” by rebuking her, “Two years ago, she very much did that.” They also remind readers of an angry response from former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who helped organize a Joe Biden fundraiser that Warren attacked last April. Rendell wrote an op-ed in September calling Warren a hypocrite for her attacks on other candidates’ fundraisers, in which Rendell raised the same specific points as Linskey and Lee do today:
Now, Warren has every right to make that pledge even if she had obtained significant contributions from donors in the past. Doing that didn’t make her a hypocrite. But there are two other reasons why the description applies.
First, because she transferred $10.4 million from her Senate reelection campaign to her presidential campaign fund. More than $6 million came in contributions of $1,000 and up, as the New York Times recently noted. The senator appears to be trying to have it both ways — get the political upside from eschewing donations from higher-level donors and running a grass-roots campaign, while at the same time using money obtained from those donors in 2018. …
Second, Warren attacked former vice president Joe Biden for holding a kickoff fundraiser in Philadelphia in April, which she criticized as “a swanky private fund-raiser for wealthy donors” in an email to supporters the next day.
Well, I helped organize that affair, and I thought her attack was extremely hypocritical because nearly 20 of us who attended the Biden fundraiser had also given her $2,000 or more in 2018 at closed-door fundraisers in “swanky” locations.
Warren didn’t seem to have any trouble taking our money in 2018, but suddenly we were power brokers and influence peddlers in 2019. The year before, we were wonderful. I co-chaired one of the events for the senator and received a glowing, handwritten thank-you letter from her for my hard work.
Rendell’s column caused a minor splash at the time, but that didn’t impact Warren’s upward trajectory. She sailed through the Democratic debate to peak at a virtual tie with Biden in the aggregate polling average curated at RealClearPolitics in October. Since that point, Warren’s polling stock has descended faster and more steeply than even Kamala Harris’ after her peak in early July. That’s not just nationally, either; in Iowa, Warren has fallen into fourth place after briefly leading the field, although the top tier is bunched together:
Warren has also fallen to fourth place in New Hampshire, a state in which the Massachusetts senator desperately needs to show strength. Warren’s a very distant second to Joe Biden in South Carolina, too. With the wheels coming off her campaign, suddenly the criticism from Rendell and other Democrats over hypocrisy and dishonesty stick more to the flesh.
On the latter point, Warren isn’t helping herself. Within the space of six weeks she contradicted herself on her bio … again:
It’s not just that Warren’s a hypocrite — it’s that she’s a phony. Her stock is falling because voters have gotten wise to her act. If Warren doesn’t rethink her entire approach to politics in this cycle, she might soon be joining Harris on the sidelines.