Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke responded to criticism while campaigning in Virgina on Tuesday regarding the small percentage of his income he gave to charity, saying serving in public office is a way he donates.
According to The Washington Post, O’Rourke gave the least in total amount and in percentage of income of 2020 Democratic contenders whose taxes have been made public.
He and his wife Amy reported $1,166 in charitable giving from an adjusted gross income of $366,455 in 2017, which works out to one-third of 1 percent.
The other Democratic contenders’ totals ranged between 1.4 and 5.5 percent of their incomes.
A University of Virginia student questioned O’Rourke about his low giving levels during a campaign event on the school’s campus in Charlottesville.
The woman asked why the former Texas congressman gave less in charitable donations than her sister did, who is a recent college graduate who earns one-seventh the amount.
O’Rourke responded first by taking a not so veiled swipe at President Donald Trump, saying every one who hold the highest office in the land should release his or her tax returns. Trump has not released his tax filings, stating that while he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service he has been advised not to do so.
“I’ve served in public office since 2005,” O’Rourke then said. “I do my best to contribute to the success of my community, my state and now, of my country.”
“There are ways that I do this that are measurable, and there are ways that I do this that are immeasurable. There are charities that we’ve donated to that we’ve recorded and itemized, others that we’ve donated to that we have not,” he added.
The 46-year-old held a position on the El Paso, Texas, city council from 2005 to 2011 and then became a member of Congress from 2011 to 2018.
O’Rourke unsuccessfully sought to unseat Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2018 midterms before announcing his candidacy for the presidency last month.
“I will tell you, I’m doing everything that 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 that we’ve got,” he said.
The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien pointed out that O’Rourke “pontificated about how the wealth of the country must be shared” in a tweet last month.
“The unprecedented concentration of wealth, power and privilege in the United States must be broken apart. Opportunity must be fully shared with all. We must all have the opportunity to succeed. Together. As one country,” the candidate wrote.
The unprecedented concentration of wealth, power and privilege in the United States must be broken apart. Opportunity must be fully shared with all. We must all have the opportunity to succeed. Together. As one country.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 30, 2019
NBC news affiliate WVIR reported the issues O’Rourke pushed during two stump speeches at UVA included universal healthcare, criminal justice reform, changes to the immigration system and stricter gun control laws.
The Democrat also spoke about his support for the “Equality Act,” which seeks to include sexual preference along with other protected classes — like race, gender and religion — in federal anti-discrimination law.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.