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  • Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a town hall meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., April 17, 2019

    Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a town hall meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., April 17, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 April 2019

Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D) has earned over US$1 million in pharma and oil investments while warning about climate change during his campaign.

United States tax returns revealed that Democrat Beto O'Rourke, a 2020 White House candidate, has made over US$1 million dealing with pharmaceutical and fuel firms, such as ExxonMobil, through his father-in-law's investment company, Campr Partners. 

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Democratic candidates are trying to contrast with the current Republican U.S. President Donald Trump who refuses to release his tax returns despite the longstanding practice to promote political transparency.

O'Rourke's investments, particularly in ExxonMobil, also contradicts the presidential candidate's pledges to mediate climate change. The fossil fuel corporation was sued by the State of New York in October 2018 for "defrauding" investors for covering up the company's decades of evidence that its practices contributed to climate change. 

Tax returns showed Beto O’Rourke and his wife, Amy, made more than US$1 million from her father's investment company buying and selling stocks in other companies like Phillip Morris and Transocean, the company behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, during the Congress member's first two years in office. He also invested in pharmaceutical companies, as well as Microsoft and Facebook during that time.

Amy O’Rourke sold her stake in the company in 2014 for between $1 million and $5 million, records showed.

"Beto has never had any interest in or control over Campr," replied O’Rourke’s campaign in a statement.

“Amy sold all of her Campr assets in 2014 and, even before that, never had any control over its investment decisions or expenditures." Amy's father, William Sanders, controls Campr Investments.

According to the tax return, O’Rourke and his wife gave only US$1,166 to charity in 2017, including $1,000 to Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas where O'Rourke is from that assists migrants.

Presidential candidates released their tax returns in late March.

During the campaign, O’Rourke declined to sign a pledge from activists saying he wouldn’t take donations of more than US$200 from individuals in the fossil fuel industry. Moreover, in 2015, the Texas Democrat voted to lift a ban on oil exports, saying it would boost trade competition.

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