Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke is struggling to deal with criticism that he gives too little of his income to charity.
The former Texas congressman released his tax returns on Monday night and was already under fire from the public by the next day.
O’Rourke published a total of 10 years of his tax returns. In 2017, he and his wife earned a gross income of $366,455. They donated $1,166 of that money to charitable organizations, which is less than one percent of their income.
Visiting the University of Virginia on Tuesday, O’Rourke was questioned by a student about his low giving rate. The student said her sister gave more to charity than O’Rourke despite making seven times less than the man.
He defended himself by pompously stating that instead of money, he gives himself as charity in the form of his holding public offices.
“I’ve served in public office since 2005,” he 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.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, O’Rourke was again questioned about his tax returns. He said he and his wife donated “thousands” of more dollars to charity than they reported, but they didn’t feel they needed the deductions.
The failed Texas senator said he is working with some organizations to get proof that he donated to them.
“We are trying to go back to some of these organizations to see if they can share with us, over the last 10 years, how much we have donated,” he said.
O’Rourke added that he was unprepared to prove his charitable donations because he never thought he would be running for president.
The Texas Democrat said that he and his family have “donated time on the boards of nonprofits and, certainly, in public service and in public life.”
Also getting heat from the public for their tax returns is Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). It was revealed that the presidential hopeful made more than one million dollars in two of the past three years. Sanders donated less than one percent of his income the first year he earned a million dollars. That wouldn’t be so much of a problem if Sanders weren’t constantly railing against capitalism and asking for people to give more in taxes.
Sanders got a bit annoyed when questioned at a recent Fox News town hall event about why he didn’t give more of his income to the government or to charity.
“I pay the taxes that I owe,” he said.
Check out the moment below:
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 16, 2019
It’s clear that folks like Sanders and O’Rourke get a bit uncomfortable when questioned about both their income and their giving — and they should. Your personal finances are a private matter and when someone tells you that you have not given enough or that you have too much, it is a personal insult to your time and your livelihood.
If Sanders and O’Rourke were less detached from reality, maybe they could take a lesson from all of this. The discomfort that comes with their income and charitable natures being put under a microscope is the same discomfort they bring millions of Americans when they giddily talk about the government being entitled to more and more of average Americans’ incomes.
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