Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Santorum Lags Behind In Charitable Giving

It seems as if there is a new front-runner in the GOP primaries every month.  That honor goes to Rick Santorum this month, with the former senator from Pennsylvania overtaking Mitt Romney and his other rivals in the last few primaries, including a three state sweep in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri.  With increased notoriety comes increased public scrutiny, the latest of which comes in the form of Santorum's charitable giving.

CNN Money reported last week that Santorum lags behind GOP rivals Romney and Newt Gingrich when it comes to charitable donations.  This information comes from the candidate's tax returns, which shows that he gave $81,500 to charity over the past four years.  This makes up only 2.2 percent of his $3.6 million in total income since leaving the Senate.  It got even lower in 2010, when his giving made up only 1.76 percent of his $923,411 income.  In comparison, President Barack Obama gave 14.2 percent of his income to charity, while Romney and Gingrich gave 13.8 and 2.6 percent respectively.

Data from the IRS and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show that taxpayers that have an income of $500,000 or more donate 3.4 percent of their total income to charity, putting Santorum's giving on the low end of the spectrum.  Santorum puts a lot of stock in his religious faith and Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, notes that religious individuals tend to give more to charity than the non-religious.  That makes his giving rate seem even lower.

Santorum has long been an advocate of charitable giving and nonprofits, which makes his low giving rate even more puzzling.  In 2005, while he was still in the Senate, he sponsored the CARE Act, which was to promote the interests of charities and provide incentives for Americans to donate.

You can read the full story on Santorum's charitable giving habits in CNN Money.

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