Elizabeth Warren Says She’ll Reject Big Money Fundraising Events

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she’ll reject big fundraising events and special access for big donors, seeking to bolster her populist credentials with a voting base increasingly dismayed by the influence of money in politics.

The Massachusetts senator told supporters in an email Monday she’s swearing off “fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks” and insisted all donors, whether they give $1 or $1,000, will get equal treatment.

“It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events. And it means I won’t be doing ‘call time,’ which is when candidates take hours to call wealthy donors to ask for their support,” Warren said in the email, which was viewed in advance by Bloomberg News.

Warren has already vowed not to take money from political action committees or align with a super-PAC, which are allowed to raise unlimited amounts from corporations, unions or individuals but aren’t permitted to coordinate with candidates. As both parties have refined the ability to raise large sums through small donations from individuals, the influence of big donors has become a target for candidate criticism, particularly Democrats. Surveys show that voters across partisan affiliation believe there’s too much money in politics.

Campaign Cost

Still, sustaining a campaign in a large field without high-dollar fundraisers or PAC money will be a challenge for Warren, particularly if her competitors refuse to forgo the option. A modern presidential campaign costs hundreds of millions of dollars, not including spending by outside groups and party committees. Warren’s campaign declined to disclose its fundraising numbers so far; she launched her 2020 bid on Feb. 9.

But in an illustration of the power of small donors, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is competing with Warren for the votes of progressive Democrats, reported raising $5.9 million from almost 223,000 individual donors in the 24 hours after announcing on Feb. 19 that he’s seeking the Democratic nomination.

One of Warren’s chief campaign themes has been that the rich and powerful are buying politicians to rig an economic system that she — and many Democrats — say is failing the middle class. The same critique, which dates back to her time as a Harvard law professor, has drawn many progressive voters to her campaign. She has pressured her competitors to disavow PAC money and urged Democratic voters to reject candidates who use their personal wealth to fund their campaigns.

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