In an email to supporters this morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is setting a new standard for her campaign by promising not to attend high dollar fundraisers, dinners or cocktail receptions with donors and ensuring that everyone has “equal access.”
“The Democratic primary is the time when we get to make choices—and make a difference,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote. “Democrats deserve a chance to choose a nominee whose time is not for sale to people who can write big checks.”
“So I’ve made a decision: My presidential primary campaign will be run on the principle of equal access for anybody who joins it.”
This decision, perhaps one which will influence the remainder of the sprawling Democratic field, comes after Warren also swore off lobbyist money, PAC money, and dark-money groups. Her competitors have largely joined her in that pledge but that hasn’t precluded some from scheduling fundraisers throughout the country.
Warren describes the choice as not only a moral one but a practical one as well, giving her the opportunity to spend more time organizing in crucial early voting states.
“It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events,” Warren writes. “And it means I won’t be doing ‘call time,’ which is when candidates take hours to call wealthy donors to ask for their support. As a candidate for president, the expectation is you make hours of these calls a week and attend dozens of these exclusive events every quarter.”
“Doing things this way will give me hundreds and hundreds of hours of time back to spend with more voters, grassroots donors and volunteers,” she continued.
Warren acknowledges that this choice will have consequences for her and that strategically, she’s banking on using the freed-up time to build out the campaign on the ground.
“No doubt about it, there will be a cost to our approach,” she wrote. “In fact, making this decision will ensure that I will be outraised by other candidates in this race.”
Since her launch, Warren has consistently hit on themes she has emphasized throughout her career about the pernicious impact of money in politics, saying at her official presidential announcement earlier this month: “We also need to end the unwritten rule of politics that says anyone who wants to run for office has to start by sucking up to rich donors on Wall Street and powerful insiders in Washington.”
Already, Warren has seen stiff competition from some of her competitors who have proven to be fundraising behemoths. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours of her campaign and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raised an astonishing near $6 million in the first day after his launch last week. Warren’s campaign did not publicize her first-day totals but she raised around $300,000 online on the day she launched her exploratory committee.
In concluding her note, she made clear that fundraising this way was a means of putting power in the hands of people disenchanted by the current political system.
“I believe the biggest risk in this election is failing to empower the millions of people who feel the squeeze of an economy rigged against them and the deep frustration of a failing political system that produced Donald Trump in the first place.”