DALLAS - Charitable giving is the issue of the moment for Texas Republicans running for U.S. Senate.
The 2010 Texas GOP platform frames the issue.
It says Texas should enact tough welfare reforms and the needy should rely on donations from "faith-based institutions, community and business organizations."
But for that plan to work, Texans need to donate to charity.
Compared to Texas' median household income of about $50,000 a year, the prominent Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are all wealthy, including former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who participated in the first major debate of the campaign on January 12.
"We need to send someone who knows what he believes, who has firm principles, who's spent a lifetime standing and fighting for the Constitution," Cruz said.
With Republicans believing religious and non-profit groups strengthen the safety net, the candidates' tax returns reveal their giving in cash.
The returns of Cruz and his wife, released over the weekend, show an adjusted gross income in 2009 and 2010 of more than $3.5 million. They about 1 percent of that figure -- $28,000 -- to charity.
Asked to explain, the Cruz campaign told News 8 Cruz also donates "many hours of his time to charitable and educational endeavors."
The combined 2009 and 2010 returns of Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and his wife show a net loss of income of $472,000 because of business losses. Yet by tapping their wealth, the Dewhursts still gave away more than $2 million.
Asked if Dewhurst is comfortable with what he donates, considering the family's net worth is more than $200 million, his campaign says he's never completely happy, but gives what he can.
The question also came up on Inside "Texas Politics Sunday" to candidate Craig James, who gave away 2 percent of his $1.3 million income over those two years.
"Not a good percent is it?" James responded. "I understand; I wish I could give a million bucks to my church. I do give my testimonies, my time and my energy there. My wife and I, we help people, our family, family friends, neighbors that aren't 501(c)3 organizations, but they have the same needs. I do help people. I wish I could give more, but I can't, and so I try to take care of a lot of different people and responsibilities and feel good about that."
Although Cruz and James released five years of returns, WFAA reviewed 2009 and 2010 for a better comparison, since Dewhurst released returns for those two years only.
The campaign of former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has said he'll release his tax returns, too, but nothing so far.