Charitable Giving Among the GOP Presidential Candidates: It Might Surprise You Which One is the Most Generous

By The Stream Published on February 1, 2016

GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is being criticized for giving only about 1 percent of his income to charity over the past few years. What may surprise some is that this looks to be fairly typical for the candidates in the race, and perhaps even higher than some.

Billionaire Donald Trump has not disclosed his tax returns, but what data is available led one media outlet to label him, fairly or unfairly, “The Least Charitable Billionaire In The World.”

The other candidates who haven’t released their tax returns, or at least not the portion describing charitable giving, are Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore. One possible explanation is that their rates of charitable giving aren’t anything to brag about.

Most of the remaining candidates typically gave in the 1-3% range.

Between 2005 and 2010 Ted Cruz’s charitable giving totaled 0.9 percent of his adjusted gross income. He was scolded by Mike Huckabee (who, curiously, has not released his own tax returns) for failing to give the biblical tithe of 10 percent.

When asked about his giving, Cruz said, “I will readily admit that I have not been as faithful in this aspect of my walk as I should have been.” He added, “I am grateful that God is a patient and forgiving God and this area, as in many areas of my life I am working to do a better job walking in my faith.”

Jeb Bush gave 1.8 percent in 2012 and 1.5 percent  in 2013. The next year his giving rose to 3.7 percent. Rick Santorum contributed 1.8 percent of his 2010 adjusted gross income. Chris Christie donated 2.8 percent.

The apparent outlier in the presidential race: former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. She and her husband contributed 15 percent of their adjusted gross income in 2012, and 13.4 percent in 2013.

As a point of reference, the average American contributes around 3 percent to charity, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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