Phillip Stucky | Contributor
An unnamed student at the University of Virginia asked former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, during a Tuesday meet-and-greet on campus, why he gave less to charity than a recent college graduate.
“Thank you for coming,” the student began. “You just released your tax returns. I was talking to my sister about this and we were wondering why, as someone who earns seven times as much of an income as she as a recent college graduate does, gives less in charitable donations than she does.”
O’Rourke offered up a word salad in response, in which he first appeared to strike at President Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns.
“Thank you for the question,” he began. “So first of all, I think that we would all like to ensure that every person that holds the highest position of power and public trust in this country releases his or her taxes, so we can understand if there are any real or perceived conflicts of interest. So we hold ourselves accountable as I am doing with you right now.”
The Texas Democrat then appeared to defend the relative pittance he has donated to charity by asserting that he has given to charities that he didn’t write down or report.
“I’ve served in public office since 2005. I do my best to contribute to the success of my community, my state, and now, 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. There are charities that we donate to that are recorded and itemized, and others that we donate to that we have not.” (RELATED: Beto O’Rourke’s Website Contains A Lot Of Merchandise And O Policy Positions)
“But I’ll tell you that 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 concluded. “So if you have not read those tax returns, they’re online now for your scrutiny. Just know this: I will continue to try to be as transparent, and as forthcoming as I possibly can be.”
The Washington Post reported that O’Rourke only donated $1,166 to charity during the 2018 tax year. He reported an income of $370,412. In fact, over the last 10 years, his donations exceeded 1% of his income only one of the years, which was his first as a representative on Capitol Hill.
Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders donated just over 1% of his total income last year, and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren donated 5.5% according to her tax information.