One of the big moments of this week’s democratic debate was when multi-millionaire Elizebeth Warren uncorked an attack line aimed at Pete Buttigieg and his wealthy donors. “The mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900 a bottle wine,” Warren said. She added, “We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States. Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.” Bernie Sanders and others got in on the “wine cave” attack as well and the hashtag #winecave started trending on Twitter.
Warren said the decision to not allow this to happen was made years ago, but a little over one year ago Warren held her own swanky fundraiser at a winery in Boston featuring a grammy-award winning singer and special perks for maxed out donors:
On a Saturday evening in June 2018, with temperatures in the 70s and the Red Sox playing at Fenway Park, supporters of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren gathered at the City Winery Boston for a fundraiser.
They were treated to songs by the Grammy-winning artist Melissa Etheridge and heard remarks from Warren, who was months away from announcing her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. For the top donors, those who could contribute or raise $5,400 per couple or $2,700 a person, there was a VIP photo reception and premium seating.
For them and others who gave at least $1,000, there was also a gift: a souvenir wine bottle.
Warren’s campaign has already responded to the AP story, saying that City Winery is a public venue and that tickets for the event started at $100:
Warren had her own fundraiser at a winery in 2018, where guests got a free bottle, the AP reported today. https://t.co/P9lpVrIEY0. The Warren campaign says this is not comparable to Mayor Pete’s “wine cave” event. pic.twitter.com/UJBMH2LeNz
— Dan Friedman (@dfriedman33) December 21, 2019
City Winery in Boston is a public venue but it can also be rented out for private events. I would have guessed Warren’s event was private but she seems to be suggesting that’s not the case in this statement. Also, according to a post on a grassroots activism website, the minimum ticket price for the event was $250. Here’s the page in case this disappears:
The page also included a link to an ActBlue page hosted by Wellesley Dems, but the page has been removed. The City Winery venue has several different rooms that are available for events but given that Melissa Ethridge was performing, it’s a good bet they held this in the main venue which can hold just over 200 people when seated. The photos above comes from the winery’s website and show the main venue.
This fundraiser was not a one-off. In fact, Warren has a long history of big-money fundraisers which she has conveniently forgotten about:
Past Warren donors say she was an engaging presence at those events, asking questions of her wealthy patrons and listening intently to what they had to say.
She also made it personal. She bestowed awards on those who were successful at tapping their personal networks to raise money for her. Those who bundled large amounts under $50,000 for her Senate campaign earned a silver pin, while those who brought in more were awarded a gold one engraved with her signature. Her campaign says it’s a practice she discontinued in 2012…
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 held plenty of wine fundraisers for the wealthy who could max out their donations and even bundle money from their wealthy friends. There are at least a few people with a gold pin with her signature on it showing they raised more than $50,000 for her campaign. Of course she’s free to make the case that this sort of big money fundraising is wrong, but she shouldn’t act as if she’s never done it herself.