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2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was confronted by a voter at a town hall on Tuesday about his charitable giving, after recently released tax returns showed he and his wife gave away a tiny fraction of their income.
The filings show the couple had given $1,166 to charity in 2017 despite having a combined income of $370,412, which calculates to roughly one-third of 1 percent of their income. According to The Washington Post’s James Hohmann, that places O’Rourke last among the 2020 candidates competing in the Democratic primaries.
According to Post correspondent Jenna Johnson, a student who attended the town hall at the University of Virginia asked the former Texas representative why her sister, who was a recent college graduate, donated more to charity while making much less than he and his wife.
O’Rourke responded by saying he does his best to give back to communities, but noted that some of the ways he gives back are “immeasurable.”
“I’ve served in public 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.”
He went on to suggest that his attendance at that town hall, being away from his family, was itself a charitable act.
“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,” O’Rourke told the student.