On Tuesday, appearing at a town hall at the University of Virginia, former congressman and current presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke offered a typically egocentric answer when asked why he donated so little money to charity: the audience should understand the sacrifice he’s making running for president.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Maura Nakahata, a senior majoring in chemistry with a minor in government, asked O’Rourke why if he made seven times what her sister made, she gave more money to charity than O’Rourke.
As Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post reported, O’Rourke responded loftily:
I’ve served in office since 2005. I do my best to contribute to the success of my community, of 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 donate to that we’ve recorded and itemized, others that we have donated to that we have not. But I will tell you, I’m doing everything that I can right now, spending time with you — not with out 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.
At a town hall at the University of Virginia tonight, a student asked Beto O’Rourke why her sister, a recent college graduate, makes much less money than he does but has donated more to charity than the amount that he reported on his 2017 tax return. His response: pic.twitter.com/yNCK58KjTD
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) April 17, 2019
Yet at the end of March, O’Rourke pontificated about how the wealth of the country must be shared, tweeting, “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 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
In addition, O’Rourke had problems with the idea of sharing the massive amount of funds he had accumulated for his Senate race with other Democratic party sentaorial candidates who were in close races. As The Daily Wire reported in mid-October:
On Monday, Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced that despite the alleged pleas from other Democratic senatorial candidates for him to share some of the funds he has accrued for his campaign, he has no intention to do so, even though their races may be closer than his race against Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to The New York Times, Democrats feel that they would have a better chance in winning close Senate races in Missouri, Florida, and Indiana if O’Rourke would share the wealth.
O’Rourke has accumulated a $38.1 million war chest, the largest in Senate history; he informed reporters he will spend it all before Election Day. He sniffed that if his donors want to offer additional support to other candidates, they can fork over more cash, according to The Washington Examiner. O’Rourke said, “I’ve got to honor the commitment that those who’ve contributed to this campaign have made to me, and their desire that we use this to win this election. If they want to contribute to someone else, they should do so. If they want to contribute to a campaign that’s going to win this historic victory for Texas and the country, then I’m grateful for the contribution and I’m going to make the most of it, so that’s what we’re focused on.”
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, “Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) released 10 years of tax returns last night. He and his wife reported $1,166 of charitable giving from a total income of $370,412 in 2017, the most recent year for which they released a return. That’s one-third of 1 percent.”
O’Rourke came in at the bottom of the list of current presidential candidates if you compare his giving in 2017 to their 2018 charity giving as cited by the Post, although none of them gave over 6%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and her husband donated 5.5%; Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and his wife gave roughly 4%; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his wife gave 3.4%; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and her husband gave just less than 2%, as did Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and her husband, and Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband gave 1.4%.
The latest figures regarding former Vice President Joe Biden came from 2015, when he and his wife gave roughly 1.8%.