Elizabeth Warren walls off wealthy donors: No private events, no phone calls

February 25, 2019 GMT

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday pledged to democratize her presidential campaign by forgoing private events with wealthy donors, promising equal access for every supporter.

“On our campaign, there’ll be no event you’ll be excluded from because you can’t afford it, and no better seats or 1:1 time with me at events if you can. What you donate shouldn’t determine the amount of time you get to spend with a candidate,” the Massachusetts Democrat declared in a series of tweets.

The move upped the ante in a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls who are shunning super PACS and corporate money.

“This is awesome, @ewarren! I hope others running for President follow your leadership,” gushed Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, a liberal group formed by members of Sen. Bernard Sanders’ 2016 campaign. “The establishment will tell you it’s a bad idea and to only do it for the primary. But if Democrats are going to champion poor and working people, we need to walk the walk.”

Others saw it as a stunt to mask fundraising woes for Ms. Warren, who raised $299,000 on her first day, compared to the $6 million Mr. Sanders raised in the first 24 hours of his 2020 bid.

Samantha Cotten, spokeswoman for the conservative America Rising PAC, noted that Ms. Warren previously rubbed elbows with wealthy donors at exclusive events on Martha’s Vineyard and broke pledged to forego contributions from federal lobbyists.

“Warren is likely masking the fact that her campaign is struggling to raise money by pretending to be a progressive purist,” Ms. Cotten tweeted.

In her pledge, Mrs. Warren also said she will refuse to do “call time” in which candidates spend hours on the phone making personal fund-raising appeals to wealthy supporters.

“It’s been estimated that up to 70% of a congressional candidate’s time is spent with potential wealthy donors,” she said. “It’s safe to assume that goes for presidential campaigns too, and presidential donors are disproportionately white, male, and wealthy. We have to do things differently.”

Mrs. Warren also detailed her plan to be “the best president money can’t buy” on Medium.

The test for Mrs. Warren will be whether she can rake in the cash without the perks.

“If we build our campaign person to person, town to town, all across this country, it means we’ll win up and down the ballot in 2020. And we’ll have the power to make big, structural changes in 2021,” she said.