Dean Phillips Drops DEI From Campaign Website After Bill Ackman Donation


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The campaign website for Representative Dean Phillips, the Minnesota Democrat mounting a long-shot primary challenge to President Biden, has a policy platform that signals liberal bona fides tempered by a Midwestern businessman’s practicality. It includes headers like “Climate Action,” “Women’s Health and Economic Security” and “Immigration Reform.”

Sometime on Tuesday, one header was changed. Gone was “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” In its place: “Equity and Restorative Justice.”

The text beneath the header — including acknowledgments of racial disparities and vague promises to ensure equal opportunity — was untouched. But the tweak was nonetheless significant. Even more so was its timing: On Saturday, Mr. Phillips had received the endorsement of William A. Ackman, the billionaire investor who in recent months has become an outspoken critic of so-called D.E.I. programs in higher education.

Mr. Ackman did not merely endorse Mr. Phillips; in a lengthy post on X on Saturday, where Mr. Ackman has a considerable following, he said that he had already given the maximum $3,300 donation allowed to Mr. Phillips’s campaign, and he announced that on Tuesday, after the federal holiday for Martin Luther King’s Birthday, he planned to wire $1 million to We Deserve Better, a super PAC formed late last year that is supporting Mr. Phillips’s candidacy.

Mr. Ackman’s online endorsement drew responses from a number of X users who noted the D.E.I. language on Mr. Phillips’s campaign platform. In a response to one post Tuesday morning, Mr. Ackman addressed them, saying that Mr. Phillips “didn’t understand DEI until recently.”

He added: “I expect that statement will be revised promptly.” By Tuesday night, it had been.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Ackman provided some additional back story. He said that over the weekend, he had sent Mr. Phillips a handful of articles, including a column in The New York Times, that sought to distinguish what Mr. Ackman called the “D.E.I. movement” from the principles of diversity and inclusion that Mr. Ackman said he believes in, and which the congressman has also supported.

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Dean Phillips Drops DEI From Campaign Website After Bill Ackman Donation

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