Democratic 2020 Candidates Aren’t As Charitable As Most Americans

Stephen LamGetty Images

With many presidential candidates releasing their tax returns in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, the numbers reveal that — for the most past — high-polling 2020 Democratic presidential candidates donated to charity far below the United States average in 2018. Per the Indianapolis Business Journal, most Americans give between 2 to 4 percent of their income, while most candidates gave less than 2 percent of their total income.

Of course, there are some exceptions — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker all gave over 2 percent of their total incomes, with Booker giving the most at $24,000, or 16 percent. Warren gave $50,128 in 2018 on $905,742, which is 5.5 percent and the second-highest among the major Democratic candidates.

But on the other side of the spectrum is former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who gave the least with donations of just $1,166 in 2017, or 0.31 percent of his total income. And Senator Kamala Harris didn’t report any charitable contributions from 2011 through 2013, which is when she was California’s attorney general.

Indianapolis Business Journal reports that a lack of charitable donations is unlikely to harm any candidate’s campaign. And since President Donald Trump continues to avoid releasing his tax returns, there is nothing to compare Democratic donations to on the Republican side. But some candidates are facing criticism for their lack of giving, especially people like O’Rourke, who support programs and policies to help the poor.

But O’Rourke claims that he and his wife are reaching out to the charities they have donated to that don’t show up on his tax returns.

“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 those that are measurable. There are charities that we’ve donated to that we have recorded and itemized, others we have donated to that we have not.”

Previous reports suggest that Trump has claimed or pledged to give money to charity and not followed through. Last year, the New York attorney general sued the Trump Foundation for allegedly using its funds for the benefit of Trump and his children. The following December, the foundation agreed to shut down.

Although Vice President Mike Pence hasn’t released any recent tax returns — a move he claims is to support Trump — previously released returns showed that he donated significantly more to charity than most Democratic candidates. For example, in 2015 he claimed charitable deductions of $8,923 on an income of $115,526, which is about 7.7 percent. During prior years, he gave between 5.4 percent and 9.2 percent of his total income.