Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) held a fundraiser at City Winery Boston in 2018, which included a souvenir wine bottle and “VIP experiences” for big donors, calling into question her recent critique of Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) and his “wine cave” fundraiser.
The two candidates sparred over Buttigieg’s “wine cave” fundraiser during Thursday’s debate, leading Buttigieg to defend his openness of wealthy contributors.
“So the mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine,” she said. “Think about who comes to that.”
Buttigieg reminded Warren of her past, as she attended big fundraisers hosted by wealthy donors as recently as 2018.
That year, she attended a fundraiser at the City Winery Boston, which featured singer Melissa Etheridge. The event doled out souvenir wine bottles for those who donated $1,000. Those who gave $2,700 were “offered VIP experiences,” according to Fox News.
“This was the danger in the @ewarren ‘wine cave’ attack on @PeteButtigieg,” former Obama chief strategist David Axelrod tweeted.
“Her own past fundraising practices were pretty much in line with his, including even some of the same high dollar sponsors,” he added. “She invited stories like this. Unforced error”:
This was the danger in the @ewarren “wine cave” attack on @PeteButtigieg. Her own past fundraising practices were pretty much in line with his, including even some of the same high dollar sponsors. She invited stories like this. Unforced error.https://t.co/OpO7U9avP3
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) December 21, 2019
Warren, who has received support from at least 30 billionaires over the course of her political career, defended her winery fundraiser, claiming that she simply “saw how the system works” and had a change of heart when she decided to launch her presidential campaign.
“I decided when I got in the presidential race that I wanted to do better than that,” Warren told reporters over the weekend, according to Slate.
“And that’s why I just quit doing it. I don’t sell access to my time. I don’t call high-dollar fundraisers. I’m out there raising money grassroots all across this country because I want to move this in the right direction,” she said.
“We can’t be a country that just keeps getting worse and worse,” she added.
Nonetheless, Warren has co-hosted a number of the fundraisers she frequently critiques.
As the New York Post reported:
Alix Ritchie, who has donated more than $20,000 to Warren, said she had co-hosted events and attended others.
“Many of the events for her that I went to were on the Cape in the summer,” said Ritchie, formerly the publisher of the Provincetown Banner newspaper. “They would have wine and some kind of finger food. It’s pretty standard. It wasn’t any different from what other people do. She raised money the way every candidate raises money.”
Warren has also attended fundraisers on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and in Greenwich Village and at a mansion in Santa Monica, California.
The events brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for her Senate campaigns and other Democratic causes.
Famous names sponsored fundraisers for Warren, too. Among them: actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as well as well-known Democratic donors such as financier George Soros.
In 2012, she attended a New York fundraiser hosted by the same donor, Kevin Ryan, who put on a Buttigieg event this month that drew protesters who support her as well as Sanders.
Nevertheless, Warren now claims she does not “sell access to my time.”
“I don’t do call time with millionaires and billionaires,” she said during the debate.
While Warren touts her presidential campaign as 100 percent grassroots-funded, she transferred over $10 million from her senatorial bid — a time she attended swanky fundraisers and gave facetime to big donors — to cushion her campaign.