Tax returns released by Democrat presidential candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke show that despite his rhetoric about spreading the wealth, he doesn’t donate much of his own money to charity.
The former three-term congressman from Texas published 10 years of tax returns this week. The most recent, from 2017, show O’Rourke and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of $366,455, of which they donated a paltry .3 percent, or $1,166, to charity.
Beto O’Rourke, tonight, when asked by a student why her sister donates more to charity than him ($1,166 in 2017) despite earning substantially less than his family: pic.twitter.com/nD2a0YxETE
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) April 17, 2019
A student at the University of Virginia put O’Rourke on the spot Tuesday during a campaign stop in Charlottesville, and his excuse for the meager donation spoke volumes about his character.
Maura Nakahata, a UVA senior, asked O’Rourke to explain why he gave less to charity than her sister, despite an income seven times higher. The congressman’s response: his time is its own special, “immeasurable” reward.
“We were wondering why, as someone who earns 7 times the amount of income as she, a recent college graduate does, gives less in charitable donations than she does?”
— The Hill (@thehill) April 17, 2019
“I’ll tell you, I’m doing everything I can right now spending this time with you, not with our kiddos, not back home in El Paso, because I want to sacrifice everything to make sure that we meet this moment of truth with everything we’ve got,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
“I’ve served in public office since 2005. I do my best to contribute to the success of my community, my state and now, of my country,” he continued. “There are ways that I do this that are measurable. And there are ways that I do this that are immeasurable.”
The AP reports the measurable ways put O’Rourke in last place among Democrats vying in the 2020 primary to take on President Trump. Of those who have released their tax returns, O’Rourke’s overall giving for the last decade equates to just .71 percent of his adjusted gross income, or less than half as much as most of his competition.
For comparison, IRS data shows Americans earning over $250,000 a year donate an average of $21,365 to charity, The Daily Caller reports.
O’Rourke told the media he actually gave a lot more money than he put on his tax returns, he just doesn’t want the tax deduction. O’Rourke alleged he wasn’t planning to run for president, so he didn’t track his many, many donations.
“Amy and I have done everything we can to give to our community, in ways that are measurable and itemized on our tax deductions, in ways that we did not itemize – where gave but didn’t declare it, in part because I didn’t think I’d be releasing my tax returns, because I didn’t think I’d be running for president,” O’Rourke told reporters at an Alexandria, Virginia house party on Wednesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“For us it wasn’t important to itemize or to take the deductions,” he said. “We wanted to make contributions to causes and charities and to people that we believed in that we thought could be helpful. Again, never thought I’d be publishing 10 years of my tax returns, which we just did two days ago.”
O’Rourke also said his campaign is now trying to track down and document the money and time he’s donated over the years that were not detailed on his tax returns.
For now, Americans will just have to take O’Rourke’s word that he’s really much more charitable than he appears on paper, though Charlottesville student Nakahata wasn’t exactly moved by his excuses.
“It was very much a politician’s answer,” she said.