Employees of McKinsey & Company are opening their wallets for one of their own, Pete Buttigieg, in the Democratic presidential race. Mayor Pete is far and away the top recipient of donations from McKinsey employees, accounting for nearly half of presidential primary contributions from people working at the firm, according to a Sludge analysis of FEC data.
Fifty-three employees of McKinsey and its affiliated nonprofit donated a total of over $53,000 to Buttigieg’s presidential campaign committee from January through September, with nine giving the maximum allowed contribution of $2,800. Buttigieg’s total was over three times as much as the second-highest recipient, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), at $17,000. Former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign received the third-largest amount from McKinsey employees, $11,560, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.Y.) was fourth with $8,365.
Former tech executive Andrew Yang—who has highlighted the potential economic costs of automation in ways similar to a November 2017 McKinsey report warning of 73 million lost jobs by 2030—received the fifth-biggest total, at $4,655.
Two leading candidates who criticize corporate power, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), combined to receive roughly one-tenth as much in donations from McKinsey employees as Buttigieg. Warren received $3,244 in contributions from ten individuals at an average donation of $324. Sanders received $2,931 in contributions from seven individuals at an average donation of $419.
All told, McKinsey employees made 117 contributions totaling $110,815 to the committees of 15 2020 presidential candidates, with an average aggregate donation of $947. Only one donation by a McKinsey employee went to a Republican: a $38 contribution to Donald Trump by Scott Nyquist, a senior adviser and director emeritus of McKinsey’s European and North American Oil and Gas practices based in Houston, Texas.
Buttigieg was a McKinsey employee from 2007 to 2010, but his consulting record there, with time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains a company secret “largely covered by a non-disclosure agreement.” In late October, Buttigieg distanced himself from McKinsey’s track record as a champion of economic privatization and a leading adviser to authoritarian governments like China, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Turkey.
McKinsey Big Shots Give to Their Guy
The Pete for America committee received a maximum contribution from Gary Pinkus, chairman of McKinsey North America, who is touted as “a global leader in private equity and investment, with deep roots in healthcare.”
Another McKinsey executive who maxed out to Buttigieg, giving $2,800, is Kausik Rajgopal, managing partner of the firm’s Western regional operations and a senior partner in the Silicon Valley office. On Oct. 21, Rajgopal was interviewed about a McKinsey report on the financial positions of global banks, and he advised banks to outsource more functions, such as trading and compliance; cut costs, including through zero-based budgeting; and expand through acquisitions.
Gretchen Berlin, a D.C.-based partner in the health care sector, also contributed the maximum amount to Buttigieg. Last month, Sludge reported on Buttigieg’s transformation into a leading critic of a single-payer Medicare for All system as he scored donations to his campaign from individuals in the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Other McKinsey employees maxing out to Buttigieg include Nikhil Patel, a partner based in Houston with the Global Energy practice and focusing on oil and gas. Alexandra Nee is an associate partner in D.C. with expertise in Private Equity and Aerospace & Defense, according to Nee’s LinkedIn profile, among other industries. Samir Khushalani is a partner in Houston consulting for energy companies, as is Adam Barth, who serves electric and gas utilities. Zac Townsend, an associate partner who works on fintech with banking clients in San Francisco, nearly maxed out with contributions totaling $2,550.
McKinsey stands atop the Big Three management consultancies, with 27,000 employees and a revenue of over $10 billion last year, about 25% more than the second-largest, Boston Consulting Group. This steady stream of corporate and government engagements supports its numerous employees, some of whom donate to politicians: In the 2020 election cycle, McKinsey stands a close second among companies in the business services industry in total contributions to federal candidates, at $355,714, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Similarly, its annual federal lobbying expenses in 2019 put it fourth among business services firms, with $1.5 million.