AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A review by a newspaper of recent years' tax returns from Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis — the top two candidates vying to be the next governor of Texas — shows they have generally given a smaller percentage of their income to charity than the average Texan.
The Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/1cbsCNA ) that in each of the past three years, Abbott, the Republican Texas attorney general, and his wife, Cecilia, together earned a little over $200,000.
In 2010, the Abbotts gave $2,426 to charity, or 1.2 percent of adjusted gross income; in 2011, they gave $6,620, or 3.1 percent; and in 2012, $3,014, or 1.4 percent.
Davis, a Democratic state senator and an attorney, had an adjusted gross income of $130,931 in 2010; $235,428 in 2011; and $284,183 in 2012.
She contributed $2,700 to charity, or 2 percent of her adjusted gross income, in 2010. In 2011, she donated $515 or 0.2 percent, and in 2012, she gave $950 or 0.3 percent.
Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch and Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna both said that the tax statements do not fully capture their candidate's generosity or charitable giving.
In an analysis of Internal Revenue Service figures last year, the National Center for Charitable Statistics found that the average charitable contribution per return filed in 2010 was 2.1 percent, both nationally and in Texas.
By comparison, Lisa Fritsch, a conservative commentator from Austin who is challenging Abbott for the GOP nomination, is relatively more generous in her charitable contributions, the newspaper reported.
Fritsch and her husband have given $125,000 in charitable contributions since 2000, which is 2.3 percent of their adjusted gross income over that period.
Fritsch's charitable contributions are detailed in 13 years of tax returns that she has released. Abbott and Davis have released tax returns for the past three years.
While the 3.1 percent Abbott gave to charity in 2011 exceeded the Texas and national average, his tax returns do not reflect the annual tax-free annuity he receives each year as part of a settlement for an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, which includes monthly payments and a lump sum every three years. He will have received $570,000 this year as part of the settlement.
Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said he thinks that voters "notice real stinginess more than they do average or even extraordinary generosity."
"All of the candidates for governor fall short of the biblical tithe, but Davis falls far enough short that she should be thinking of an explanation," he said.
Acuna said Davis plays a role in assisting her family and extended family.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com