Buttigieg calls on McKinsey to release information about his consulting work in Middle East

He said an NDA prevents him from disclosing more information.

December 6, 2019, 8:50 PM

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has called on his former employer, McKinsey and Co., to release information about his time working for the consulting firm in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buttigieg has said he's personally unable to discuss what he did because of a non-disclosure agreement he signed with McKinsey he left the firm in 2010.

"I give authorization to McKinsey to release the full list of clients I was assigned to serve," Buttigieg said Friday night in a statement that included a summery of his work at the firm.

As ABC News previously reported, from 2007 to 2010, Buttigieg was working in the Middle East on behalf of McKinsey. But Buttigieg has said relatively little about his time in the region.

While with McKinsey, Buttigieg said that in 2007 he served a nonprofit health insurance provider for three months in Michigan, and in 2008 he worked in the Toronto area analyzing prices for a grocery and retail chain for about six months. In 2008 and 2009 he worked mostly in Connecticut on research to fight climate change by improving energy efficiency, and in 2009 he worked in California for an environmental nonprofit. In 2009, he also worked in Washington, with trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, for the U.S. government.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Cronk's restaurant, Nov. 26, 2019, in Denison, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Cronk's restaurant, Nov. 26, 2019, in Denison, Iowa.
Scott Olson/Getty Images, FILE

In Buttigieg's book, "The Shortest Way Home," he scarcely mentions his consulting but does drop hints about his work in "war zone economic development to help grow private sector employment." He also refers to a "safe house" in Baghdad.

His final project for McKinsey was from 2009 to 2010. He analyzed logistics for a shipping provider.

The South Bend mayor's civilian work for the famously secretive consulting company -- and his silence on the matter -- has faced increased scrutiny as his popularity grows among the pool of 2020 Democratic primary contenders.

Asked by ABC News' Whit Johnson on Friday whether Buttigieg believes the American people should know about his work for McKinsey, Buttigieg said he believes it is important for this information to be released, and that he was urging McKinsey to release him from his non-disclosure agreement.

"I don't think that McKinsey should force me to choose between keeping my word in a legal document that I signed din good faith and the need for the American people to know," Buttigieg told Johnson. "They can fix this by releasing it and getting that information out there.

On Friday morning, Buttigieg also addressed the issue in an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio.

"Right now I am calling on McKinsey to release that information," Buttigieg said. "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. This information should come out and I'm happy to speak to it when it does."

Reached by ABC News on Friday, a spokesperson for McKinsey declined to comment on Buttigieg's request to be released from his NDA.

Buttigieg continued to emphasize his calls for McKinsey to release him from his non-disclosure agreement at campaign events throughout the day.

"I believe in keeping your word," Buttigieg said Friday at a campaign event at a house party in Concord, New Hampshire. "And I signed a legal document about client names and I am calling on McKinsey to release me from that."

Buttigieg's comments came shortly after the Thursday publication of a New York Times editorial that called on the mayor to tell voters about his time abroad with McKinsey.

"Mr. Buttigieg owes voters a more complete accounts of his time at the company," the Times editorial board wrote. "Voters seeking an alternative to Mr. Trump should demand that candidates not only reject Mr. Trump's positions, but also his behavior -- including his refusal to share information about his health and his business dealings."

In Friday's statement, Buttigieg said his campaign first reached out in June about the scope of the agreement and have reached out additional times since.

"To date," the statement read, "the company has not agreed."