Tulsi Gabbard has been hailed as a progressive darling in the Democratic Party: she’s young, comes from a diverse background and stepped down from her position as the chairperson of the DNC to endorse Bernie Sanders. Her deep ties to Sanders is one of the reasons her name has been floated as a potential VP pick for Secretary Clinton. Many believe that if Clinton selects a progressive firebrand like Gabbard as her VP, she could bring in other Sanders supporters and bring the left-wing energy of the Democratic Party into their general election efforts to defeat Donald Trump.
However, questions have come up challenging the authenticity of Gabbard’s progressive credentials and some have critically asserted that her decision to support Sanders could be chalked up to political expediency rather than principle. So, how progressive is Congresswoman Gabbard exactly?
According to Crowdpac data, Gabbard is ideologically much closer to Secretary Clinton than to Senator Sanders.
Gabbard’s score is partially derived from who has donated to her over the duration of her political career. While Sanders pledged to raise no funds from PACs, Gabbard has not abided by the same standard. Supporters of Sanders and the “political revolution” might take some pause when they find out how much money Gabbard has taken from certain PACS.
Wal-Mart “Responsible Government” PAC
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has long been critical of the business practices of Wal-Mart, citing everything from their union-busting policies to failing to pay their workers a livable wage. In spite of this, Gabbard has taken $17,000 from Wal-Mart’s “Responsible Government” PAC, an organization that also gives to extremely conservative elected officials.
Gabbard’s acceptance of funds from Wal-Mart mirrors Secretary Clinton rather than Senator Sanders. Clinton’s Super PAC, Ready for Hillary, received $25,000 from Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton in 2015.
Funds Raised from Defense Contractor PACs
Sanders is consistently liberal on the issues of defense and foreign policy, and has said that he judges America on how it “can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner.”
Gabbard has stood by this platform, but has also taken money from the 4 largest defense contractors in the U.S. She’s raised a combined $54,000 from General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and the Employees of Northrop Grumman PAC and Boeing. This represents a solid 16% of the total amount of funding she received from PACs that contributed to her campaigns.
Financial Services PAC
The cornerstone issue of Sanders’s presidential bid was breaking up the big banks and regulating Wall Street. His stump speeches were peppered with denunciations of the financial sector’s damage to the American economy and everyday workers. However, his earliest supporter, Gabbard, has taken $21,500 from PACs in the financial services industry, including Ernst & Young, the Mortgage Bankers Association Political Action Committee, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.
The data shows Gabbard to be more aligned with Clinton than Sanders, despite Gabbard’s strong backing of Sanders.