Buttigieg says it’s ‘frustrating’ his campaign didn’t catch fundraiser’s ties to Laquan McDonald coverup

Buttigieg’s campaign on Friday said attorney Steve Patton’s money will be returned, and he “is no longer a co-host for the event and will not be attending.” Patton led Chicago’s law department under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

SHARE Buttigieg says it’s ‘frustrating’ his campaign didn’t catch fundraiser’s ties to Laquan McDonald coverup
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to reporters at the University of Chicago on Friday.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to reporters at the University of Chicago on Friday.

Tina Sfondeles/Chicago Sun-Times

Democrat Pete Buttigieg on Friday called it “frustrating” that his campaign didn’t notice a former city of Chicago attorney who fought the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video was a sponsor of a South Side fundraising event — and a contributor to his presidential bid.

Buttigieg’s campaign on Friday said attorney Steve Patton’s money will be returned, and he “is no longer a co-host for the event and will not be attending.” Patton led Chicago’s law department under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The move came after The Associated Press reported on the event Friday morning and the South Bend, Indiana, mayor faced fierce online backlash. Patton was a co-host of the event to be held later Friday and had contributed $5,600 to Buttigieg’s campaign.

“It’s frustrating. I’m going to figure out how it happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again, but these things do happen and we accept responsibility and keep going,” Buttigieg told reporters after a University of Chicago Institute of Politics event.

It’s an unfavorable flap the event’s host, former presidential adviser David Axelrod — on stage — called a “growing pains story” for Buttigieg’s campaign, which has quickly swelled from four to hundreds of campaign workers. Buttigieg called that assessment “not an unfair way to put it.”

“It should not [have happened],” Buttigieg said.

“And as somebody, and especially as the mayor of a city that has had a lot of anguish over its police and community relations, I believe very strongly that transparency and justice for Laquan McDonald are a lot more important than a campaign contribution,” Buttigieg said, adding he learned of the connection on Friday morning and within an hour, the campaign cut ties with Patton.

Patton has come under fire for his handling of the release of the video of Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s fatal shooting of McDonald in October 2014.

As Emanuel’s corporation counsel, Patton advised against releasing the video until after an investigation was concluded, and he managed the fallout as media interest grew. Patton also was involved in negotiating a $5 million settlement that was far less than what McDonald’s family asked for.

Racial tensions have taken the forefront of the South Bend community — and Buttigieg’s presidential campaign — since a police shooting there on June 16. Eric Logan was fatally shot in a downtown South Bend parking lot by a police sergeant who did not turn on his body camera.

Buttigieg told reporters the McDonald case taught him “the importance of transparency and the importance of information.”

“I think that the problem was really compounded by the way that information wasn’t getting out, and it’s one of the reasons we tried to lead the region in pushing information about policing in South Bend online. It’s why I’ve found that transparency is the best policy. I’ve also learned about some of the legal limits on that, but trying to be as transparent as possible helps,” Buttigieg said. “It’s also just a reminder of the deep pain that is driving the mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement, something that does unspeakable harm in a number of different ways and that the next president has to understand and be committed to doing something about.”

Contributing: Associated Press

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