Investigative Group

Beto O’Rourke’s Family Connections Key To His Wealth

(PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Peter Hasson Investigative Reporter
  • Much of Beto O’Rourke’s wealth came from his parents and his wife.
  • O’Rourke co-owns a shopping mall worth seven figures; He received his half as a gift from his mother.
  • O’Rourke’s wife has a trust fund valued between $1 million and $5 million.
  • In early 2017, Beto sold an apartment complex, which he co-owned with his mom, to a family friend and campaign donor.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is a wealthy man, and he has his family to thank for that.

Beto and his wife, Amy Sanders O’Rourke, together own assets worth between $2.4 million and $11.3 million, according to an analysis of O’Rourke’s most recent congressional financial disclosure by The Daily Caller New Foundation.

His only reported liability is his home mortgage, listed between $250,000 and $500,000, roughly the same range as his hedge fund investments alone, which are valued between $200,002 and $500,000.

The majority of Beto’s wealth came through his parents and wife, public records show.

Amy has a trust fund worth between $1 million and $5 million, Beto’s financial disclosures show. Beto’s most valuable personal asset, independent of his wife’s wealth, is a commercial property also valued between $1 million and $5 million, according to his most recent financial disclosure. (RELATED: Beto O’Rourke Denies Trying To Flee Scene Of Drunken Car Crash, Challenging Police Reports)

Beto’s Gift From Mom: Co-Ownership Of A Seven Figure Commercial Property 

The commercial property, an El Paso strip mall called PepperTree Square, is home to two restaurants, a tennis shop and a hair salon, among other tenants.

O’Rourke’s mother, Melissa O’Rourke, gave Beto his share of the property in 2012, according to his financial disclosures.

O’Rourke’s most recent financial disclosure, filed in February, reported between $100,001 and $1 million in income from PepperTree rent in 2018.

O’Rourke held a campaign meet-and-greet at Literarity Books, one of Peppertree’s tenants, in December 2017. Literarity posted a Facebook video that shows Beto fans milling about the quaint bookstore.

Screenshot/Facebook

Screenshot/Facebook

PepperTree’s longtime “anchor tenant” was Charlotte’s, an upscale furniture store owned by Beto’s mother, Melissa O’Rourke, the Houston Chronicle reported. She closed the store in early 2017.

In 2010, Charlotte’s was fined $250,000 for evading IRS rules on reporting large cash payments.

The furniture store allegedly received more than $630,000 in cash from “a particular customer,” but divided it up into increments less than $10,000 to avoid IRS reporting requirements, according to court documents reviewed by TheDCNF.

The identity of that customer remains unknown. O’Rourke family friends “said it was a simple matter of wealthy Mexican customers paying in cash,” according to Vanity Fair.

Beto’s Seven-Figure Apartment Deal With A Campaign Donor And Family Friend

In February 2017, a month before launching his Senate campaign, O’Rourke offloaded an apartment complex that he co-owned with his mother. He sold the complex to longtime family friend and campaign donor Patricia Rogers, public records show.

O’Rourke and his mother became co-owners of the building following the death of his father, former El Paso County Judge Pat O’Rourke, in 2001.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show Rogers donated thousands of dollars to each of O’Rourke’s three House campaigns, as well as to his 2018 Senate campaign. Rogers also donated $2,000 to Pat O’Rourke’s 1992 campaign for Congress.

Beto valued the property between one and five million dollars in his congressional financial disclosures. The property is a 10-minute drive from the Bridge of the Americas port of entry connecting El Paso and the Mexican city of Juarez.

TheDCNF’s reporter spent two nights at one of the complex’s 18 units, rented through Airbnb.

The complex needed interior work and lacked security features, such as the several cameras that now encircle the building, the building’s current property manager told TheDCNF. He declined to make Rogers available for an interview.

O’Rourke took out a $1.2 million mortgage on the apartment complex in 2012, which he paid off in full by March 2017, public records show.

O’Rourke reported between $100,001 and $1 million in capital gains (profits) from the February 2017 sale in his congressional financial disclosures.

It remains unclear exactly how much Beto received for the apartment complex. In the phone call, the property manager said Rogers instructed him to not disclose the amount to TheDCNF.

Texas law doesn’t require public disclosure of sale prices on commercial real estate. The El Paso county tax assessor valued the property a little below $1.1 million in 2018, county records show.

When first asked about the deal by the Free Beacon in April 2017, O’Rourke acknowledged that he had known Rogers “since we were kids,” but said their relationship had no bearing on the deal, which he described as mutually profitable.

“We each had to find a price that would work for us, and it had to be something where we were going to make money and where she felt like she would be able to make money operating it,” O’Rourke said at the time. “It was not influenced by the campaign and it was not influenced by our relationship.”

O’Rourke later downplayed the sale’s profits, telling the Associated Press in October 2018 that most of the money went towards renovation and paying off the mortgage.

“What Amy and I took from that, it was maybe in the tens of thousands of dollars,” he told the AP. “It was not a money-making proposition for us,” he said.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate former Rep. Beto O’Rourke speaks during the “We the People” summit featuring 2020 presidential candidates, at the Warner Theatre on April 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. The summit is hosted by The Center for Popular Democracy Action, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club and the Communications Workers of America. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Beto’s Campaign Deal With His And His Wife’s Company

O’Rourke turned his political campaigns into another family revenue stream. He paid roughly $110,000 in campaign funds to a web development company while either he or his wife owned it, public records show.

Beto for Texas paid Stanton Street Technology Group $58,544 during the 2011-12 election cycle, $39,060 during the 2013-14 cycle, $9,290 in the 2015-16 cycle and $32,778 during the 2017-18 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records reviewed by TheDCNF.

Either O’Rourke or his wife owned Stanton Street, a small web development firm that Beto O’Rourke founded in 1998, during the vast majority of those payments. Such payments are legal so long as the campaign is charged for the actual cost of the services, but ethics watchdogs have criticized the practice as a form of self-dealing.

Stanton Street declined to make Wancho available for an interview, but Wancho agreed to answer questions via email.

Wancho said he thought there wasn’t anything unethical about a candidate directing campaign funds to a business they own.

“What would be out-of-bounds is if the candidate abused the process and over-paid for goods and services just to enrich themself or their family,” he told TheDCNF. “I expect the combination of campaign expenditure reporting and investigative journalism to work together to root out the situations where the candidate is abusing the system.”

Beto’s presidential campaign, his first campaign since Amy O’Rourke sold the company, is not using Stanton Street, according to Wancho.

Beto for America, his 2020 campaign, acknowledged receiving an inquiry from TheDCNF for this story, but declined to comment.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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