Less than 24 hours after being given permission by McKinsey and Company to disclose his client list at his former employer, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is seeking to shed light on his years at the elite consulting firm.
"I believe transparency is a quality the American people should expect from their president," Buttigieg said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. "I also believe that the American people should be able to trust that their president will keep their word and commitments they've made."
Bound by a nondisclosure agreement, Buttigieg made a public call to McKinsey on Friday to reveal his clients, and the company decided on Monday to allow the mayor to discuss the entirety of his work from 2007 to 2010, his first job after completing school.
"Now, voters can see for themselves that my work amounted to mostly research and analysis. They can also see that I value both transparency and keeping my word. Neither of these qualities are something we see coming out of Washington, especially from this White House. It's time for that to change," Buttigieg said.
In 2007, he said he served Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for three months as his first study. Buttigieg said he was assigned to a team that looked at overhead costs such as rent, utilities and company travel and was not assigned to look at policies, premiums or benefits.
Two years later in January 2009, Blue Cross announced double-digit rate increases for many of its plans, and up to 1,000 layoffs, or nearly 10% of its workforce. They reported a loss of $140 million on health care plans in 2008, and were projected to lose $320 million in '09.
Buttigieg appeared on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Tuesday night and said "I doubt it" when Maddow asked if his work there contributed to those job cuts and policy price hikes.
“I don't know what happened in the time after I left, that was in 2007. When they decided to shrink in 2009," the mayor said before jumping into an attack on Medicare for All plans pitched by his 2020 presidential competitors Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
"Now what I do know is that there are some voices in the Democratic primary right now who are calling for a policy that would eliminate the job of every single American working at every single insurance company in the country.”
In a statement to ABC News on Wednesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan sought to clarify Buttigieg's past role.
“Pete Buttigieg was part of a larger McKinsey team we engaged back in 2007 to consult with our company during a corporate-wide reorganization. He was not involved as a leader on that team, but rather as part of the larger consultant group,” said Helen Stojic, spokesperson, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
For half of 2008 he worked in the Toronto area analyzing prices for Loblaw’s, a grocery and retail chain. He spent another three months that year serving a division of Best Buy to investigate opportunities for selling more energy-efficient home products in their stores.
From winter 2008 through spring 2009, Buttigieg said he worked mostly in Connecticut on research to fight climate change by improving energy efficiency on a project co-sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, other nonprofit groups and several utility companies.
In 2009, he said he worked in California for The Energy Foundation to research energy efficiency and renewable energy. That same year, he also worked in Washington, with trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, for the U.S. Department of Defense. His final project for McKinsey was from 2009 to 2010, analyzing potential new sources of revenue for the U.S. Postal Service.
Buttigieg’s campaign said they had been reaching out to McKinsey since June to see if he could be released from his NDA.
Recently, the mayor had been under increased pressure to reveal his work while at the firm -- even pushed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a forum in Iowa on Friday to "break the NDA."
Buttigieg was peppered with questions by reporters about McKinsey after the event, and said he would consider breaking the agreement, but wanted to give the company some time "to do the right thing."
"To act on my values I have released all my tax returns since I completed my education, a standard that, unfortunately, no other candidate in this race has been willing to meet. It is also why I released a summary of my work at McKinsey even though it was my first job out of school where I had little decision making authority," Buttigieg said in his statement on Tuesday. "It is also why I worked to be released from my confidentiality agreement with the firm, so that I could responsibly release this information, instead of accede to political pressure to violate the agreement."
McKinsey has come under scrutiny for some of its work in the past. Most recently, a New York Times/ProPublica report found that the firm was "deeply involved in executing policies fundamental to the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown," including helping ICE find “detention savings opportunities."
In a public statement last week, McKinsey shot down the report as fundamentally misrepresenting of its work in multiple areas.
“The article falsely claims that our team ‘looked to cut costs by lowering standards at ICE detention facilities.’ In fact, the focus of our procurement work was helping to negotiate better pricing with vendors when the agency was being overcharged,” McKinsey’s statement read.
Buttigieg has called the allegations in the report “disgusting” and told Maddow “the criticism is well deserved.”
"They have taken a number of steps, I can think of at least four times in the decade or so since I left, that I've opened up the newspaper and seen them doing something that was upsetting... I think it's also clearly the case that several times there, people at that company have made decisions that are embarrassing to the company and embarrassing to anybody who ever worked there."