Forbes published a financial profile piece on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and explained how the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor “cashed in on his candidacy” for president in 2020.
The magazine said Buttigieg would have to give up his mayoral job, and therefore income.
“We could make it work, as long as we were very conservative,” his husband Chasten wrote in his book, the publication noted. “So it was decided: We were doing it.”
Smart move. Instead of costing Buttigieg money, the presidential run helped him earn gobs of it. Round-the-clock cable appearances made him famous, and fame led to money. Eventually, social media helped make Chasten a star too, which led to even more money. Over the course of the next two years, the Buttigiegs went from earning the sort of modest salaries you might expect from a middle-school teacher and a small-city mayor to hauling in more than $1 million, according to our calculations.
In the leadup to the election, they pumped out three books — one by Pete at the start of the race, another by Chasten toward the end, and a third by Pete in the closing days. Those works sold more than 150,000 copies, according to NPD BookScan, an industry data service. Then there were the university gigs. Chasten got one at Harvard, and after dropping out of the race, Pete started one at Notre Dame, which provided $37,000 in six months. Pete also became a podcast host with iHeartMedia, securing a minimum guaranteed payment of $150,000. At the close of 2020, he nabbed a cabinet nomination in the Biden administration, which led to a salary increase. As transportation secretary, he now earns more than $200,000 a year. Settled in D.C., he sold his house in South Bend three months ago for $310,000, more than double his initial investment.
Of course, the Buttigiegs have not held onto all of that cash. Aside from paying taxes and covering living expenses, they also had to pick up things like Chasten’s airfare for a portion of the campaign, part of an effort to steer clear of ethics concerns. But make no mistake: they still cashed in on the campaign. Today, Forbes figures that Pete and Chasten are worth at least $750,000, estimating conservatively.
Buttigieg had a favorable book deal that earned him escalating royalties. As Forbes put it, “The book supported the campaign, and the campaign supported the book — allowing Mayor Pete to make money as his candidacy took off.”
Last week, the Atlantic magazine published a profile piece on Buttigieg and laid out his potential path to the presidency that would involve an early exit for President Joe Biden and effectively a snubbing of Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Something like: He takes an inherently snoozer job as a low-ranking Cabinet official, spends a few years quietly kissing up to mostly forgettable members of Congress with talk about railroads and broadband, and going on TV to defend the administration,” reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote.
“Along the way, he counts on Biden not to run again and Kamala Harris not to emerge as Biden’s natural heir,” he continued. “If everything comes together perfectly, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, becomes the first president since Herbert Hoover to have come out of the Cabinet.”
For the time being, Dovere noted, “Buttigieg is the public point man for the infrastructure bill,” which allows him to appear on news programs regularly.
In his role pitching the infrastructure plan, Buttigieg promotes “his own brand in the process,” Yahoo News reported.
“He gets to be Build Back Better,” an anonymous former presidential campaign staffer told Yahoo, referring to Biden’s campaign slogan.
“He gets blank checks. He can tie himself to feel-good projects coming out of the administration,” the person said.
Those “feel-good projects” afford Buttigieg the opportunity to travel the country and introduce himself “to prospective voters, and tout those” taxpayer-funded projects.