Before Beto O'Rourke — the latest Democrat entrant to the 2020 presidential race — was embraced by liberal online donors, his top financial backers were wealthy businessmen who donated millions to Republicans, The Washington Post reported.
Several of El Paso's richest business moguls donated to and raised money for O'Rourke's city council campaigns, drawn to his support for a plan to redevelop El Paso's poorer neighborhoods, the Post reported. Some later backed a super PAC that would play a key role in helping him defeat an incumbent Democratic congressman.
At the same time, O'Rourke worked on issues that had the potential to make money for some of his benefactors, the Post reported. For example, his support as a council member for the redevelopment plan coincided with property investments by some of his benefactors, the Post reported.
And as a congressman, O'Rourke supported a $2 billion military funding increase that benefited a company controlled by another major donor— real estate developer Woody Hunt, who also co-founded and funds an El Paso nonprofit organization that has employed O'Rourke's wife since 2016. the news outlet reported.
"We shared a common goal," said Ted Houghton, a local financial adviser and longtime O’Rourke donor who raised money for former GOP Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and helped steer millions in state transportation funding to the city. "The common goal was we needed to move El Paso in a different direction."
Acording to the Post, the former congressman's GOP ties are likely to become an issue as he enters a crowded Democratic presidential primary field that has leaned leftward.
But Republicans are also piling on. A recent ad by the Club for Growth described O'Rourke's pushing a redevelopment scheme "to bulldoze a poor Hispanic neighborhood," the Post reported.