Following perhaps the most heated Democratic debate thus far, wine cave jokes abound on social media — thanks to both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But those jokes lead to another very important point about wealth and net worth. During the sixth Democratic Debate, Warren and Buttigieg came head to head about political access, wealth, and campaign finances. Warren took a jab at Buttigieg for holding lavish events for wealthy donors, like the closed-door one he recently held at Hall Rutherford wine caves, saying, “billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.” In retaliation, Buttigieg brought up the issue of personal wealth.
“You know, according to Forbes magazine, I’m literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire.” The reference was a jab at the net worth of each of his fellow candidates on stage, but particularly aimed at Warren, who has focused heavily on grassroots donations and touted pride about not taking money from millionaires and the super rich. And in that moment, the awkward tension on stage was absolutely palpable.
Buttigieg then brought up Warren’s past, mentioning that some of her campaign now is funded by previous “big ticket fundraisers” she now denounces. This isn’t the first time that Warren has been criticized for hypocrisy surrounding wealth. A recent article from the New York Times discussed how Warren wooed wealthy donors for years. It details how $10.4 million from her 2018 Senate run has now been used to help fund her 2020 bid, which is just what Buttigieg was getting at.
So, now we are all wondering the same thing: what is Elizabeth Warren’s actual net worth? According to Forbes, Warren has an approximate combined net worth of $12 million with her husband. That includes her $3 million home in Cambridge and her $800,000 condo in Washington, DC, as well as her salary of $174,000.
Warren also makes quite a bit from book royalties. Her tax returns with her husband Bruce Mann show that between 2008 and 2018, they earned over $10 million. Prior to becoming a senator in 2013, Warren was a teacher. Growing up, she came from a working class background. In recent years, she’s talked extensively about her career mission to fight for working class families and help people living in poverty.
Despite all of this tension, it’s important to note that Warren, in the same vein as candidates like Bernie Sanders, is making history with how she’s funding her campaign for 2020. In early 2019, she announced that she was giving up the private fundraisers and rich donors. Now, fundraising mostly small amounts of money from everyday people, Warren is helping to change the way money is handled in politics. She has acknowledged that in the past, she went the traditional route of courting big donors.
By and large, getting cozy with wealthy people a la Pete Buttigieg is still seen as the standard in politics. At the end of the spar between her and Buttigieg, she brought it back to a conversation about who candidates are currently taking donations from and how they’re funding their campaigns in this very moment. “I do not sell access to my time. I don’t do call time. I do not meet behind closed doors with big dollar donors,” Warren said.
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