Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is a U.S. Representative for Texas’ 16th district, and is running for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat. Multiple sources report that O’Rourke is a multimillionaire, and his father-in-law — one of the richest developers in El Paso — is likely a billionaire. But despite his background, O’Rourke has committed to stay clear of PAC money, and has already out-raised Ted Cruz in donations for the first part of 2018. Here’s what you need to know about O’Rourke’s net worth.
1. Beto O’Rourke’s Net Worth Is Estimated at $7 to $9 Million
O’Rourke’s net worth varies depending on which source you read. Ballotpedia estimated his 2012 net worth at $7.5 million, up nearly $1 million from $6.8 million in 2011. InsideGov.com estimates his net worth at $9.5 million as of 2014. O’Rourke’s net worth is about 8.9 times more than the average member of Congress, and 11 times more than the average Representative.
However, the Houston Chronicle pointed out in 2014 that O’Rourke’s net worth range is from -$1.4 million to $16.5 million, which makes it tougher to discern exactly how much he is worth. This is because lawmakers don’t have to share the exact amount of their debts and assets, but instead include a range. Most estimates are based on calculating a maximum and minimum net worth for each lawmaker and then giving an estimate based on the midpoint amount.
2. He Makes $174,000 a Year as a House Representative
O’Rourke is currently a U.S. Representative for Texas’ 16th District. In this position, he makes $174,000 a year, Ballotpedia reported. During the government shutdown in 2013, O’Rourke was one of the members of Congress who refused to accept any pay, showing solidarity with furloughed government employees. At least 123 members of Congress refused to accept any pay during that time period.
According to his 2016 financial disclosure report, O’Rourke’s assets include checking accounts, bonds, capital gains dividends from Blackrock Equity, a large investment of $100,000 to $250,000 in Goldman Sachs Financial Square Treasury Instruments Fund, and numerous other investments and IRAs. He also owns several properties, including real estate in El Paso valued at $1 to $5 million (Imperial Arms, a real estate company), and ownership interests in properties that lease retail space (each valued at $1 to $5 million). He also has an investment trust valued at $5 million. But these assets are balanced by his liabilities, which include four mortgages. Two are for rental properties and range from $1 to $5 million and from $250,000 to $500,000. Two others are for personal residences, ranging from $100,000 to $250,000, and from $250,000 to $500,000. He also has a business loan worth $15,000 to $50,000.
3. O’Rourke Is Out-Raising Ted Cruz in 2018 Despite Not Accepting PAC Donations
Although Sen. Ted Cruz still has about $1 million more in donations than O’Rourke total, O’Rourke has raised more money than Cruz in the last quarter of 2017 and the first part of 2018. By mid-February, O’Rourke had raised $1.5 million more than Cruz: $2.3 million compared to $800,000 from the beginning of 2018 through mid-February. He also out-raised Cruz in the last quarter of 2017, $2.4 million compared to $1.8 million. In overall funds, Cruz still has about $1 million more than O’Rourke as of early March 2018. This is a big change from his 2016 campaign, when he raised $384,723. In 2012, when he first ran for the House seat, he raised $685,661.
O’Rourke has vowed to not accept PAC donations. “One of the reasons that I don’t take PAC money is I never want you to have to wonder who it is that I’m voting for or writing legislation for,” he said. “I serve on the House Armed Services Committee, a very solemn responsibility. You don’t want to wonder if I’m doing the work of Boeing, or Northrop Grumman, or General Dynamics or any other defense contractor.”
4. His Father-in-Law Sold a Real Estate Business to GE for at Least $2 Billion
His wife Amy Sanders‘ father, William “Bill” Sanders, is a highly successful real estate investor in the El Paso region. The book “The Richest Man in Town” noted that Bill Sanders began his latest business, Verde, after building a fortune in the real estate investment trust business. He founded LaSalle Partners and then Security Capital, one of the most successful REITs in the country, and later sold it to GE. (Some sources say he sold it for $2 billion and others say $5.4 billion.) Security Capital was one of the most influential real estate companies in history.
In 2012, when O’Rourke beat incumbent Sylvestre Reyes for the House seat, Reyes accused Sanders of using a Super PAC to “circumvent loopholes in campaign finance law” and help O’Rourke. The Super PAC, called The Campaign for Primary Accountability, was partly financed by Sanders, Texas Monthly reported. But San Antonio Express reported that the financing was a small part of total funds raised by the PAC. The Super PAC raised $1.8 million to help challengers in primaries where incumbents had an advantage. Five donors to the PAC were from El Paso, including a group tied to Sanders that gave $18,750. The Super PAC spent a total of $240,000 in the El Paso region, Politico reported, and O’Rourke said there was no coordination between his campaign and the PAC.
5. O’Rourke Started an IT Business in El Paso in 1999
O’Rourke made at least some of his money through Stanton Street Technology Group, a business that specializes in IT and web design consulting. It’s one of the largest in the El Paso region, Business Insider reported. His 2016 financial disclosure report estimated Stanton Street as having a value of $250,000 to $500,000.
O’Rourke graduated in 1995 with a degree in English literature from Columbia University. After college, he worked for Internet service providers in New York before returning to El Paso in 1998. In 1999 he co-founded Stanton Street Technology. His wife, Amy, took over as president and owner in 2013 and was still running the business in March 2017. In May 2017, El Paso Inc. shared a story that Amy might have left Stanton so she could spend more time with Beto on the campaign trail. Amy’s LinkedIn page still lists her as President of Stanton Street.
He’s also listed on his 2016 disclosure as being the director of Imperial Arms LLC and a partner in Peppertree Square Ltd. Imperial Arms is a real estate company, and Peppertree Square is a shopping center in El Paso, which was a gift from his mother, the Texas Tribune reported.