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"I reported this story because votes are important. You can look at Beto's record and think he's great. You can look at his record and think he's bad. That's your call. What's grotesque are those suggesting these votes shouldn't even be reported on," David Sirota wrote on Twitter. (Photo: Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images)

Challenging 2020 Hype, Analysis of Beto's Voting Record Shows Texas Dem Often Sided With Trump and GOP

"You can look at Beto's record and think he's great. You can look at his record and think he's bad. That's your call. What's grotesque are those suggesting these votes shouldnt even be reported on," David Sirota wrote after his analysis sparked outrage on social media

Jake Johnson

After brushing aside the frenzied 2020 presidential hype and closely scrutinizing the public voting record of outgoing Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Capital & Main investigative journalist David Sirota published a detailed analysis on Thursday showing that the Texas congressman frequently voted to advance President Donald Trump and the GOP's right-wing agenda during his three terms in the House.

"Amid persistently high economic inequality and a climate change crisis, O'Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans' tax agenda, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act, weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry, and bolstered Trump's immigration policy," Sirota wrote in his report, which was co-published by the Guardian.

"Consumer, environmental, public health, and civil rights organizations have cast legislation backed by O'Rourke as aiding big banks, undermining the fight against climate change, and supporting Trump's anti-immigrant program," he continued.

Sirota's in-depth breakdown of O'Rourke's voting record sparked social media outrage from Democratic loyalists, who advanced the familiar claim that critically probing the record of potential Democratic presidential candidates is tantamount to helping Trump win reelection.

"Here's the thing, everyone: I'll gladly take all of your personal insults and your freakouts over this article," Sirota wrote on Twitter. "It's worth the psychological cost of your toxicity as long as the article ends up injecting some substance into the 2020 presidential primaries."

And the substance—as The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan put it—"is, ahem, concerning."

After examining the 167 votes O'Rourke cast against the majority of his own party during his nearly six years in the House, Sirota found that the Texas congressman has:

  • Co-sponsored and voted for legislation that would have made it more difficult for regulators to protect consumers from racial discrimination;
  • Voted for two Republican bills to lift the oil export ban;
  • Joined Republicans to vote down Democratic legislation that would have barred drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; and
  • Supported "a package of Republican bills that Democrats said would reduce independent audits of corporations, deregulate stock exchanges, and restrict regulators' ability to monitor high-frequency trading."

"I reported this story because votes are important," Sirota concluded on Twitter. "You can look at Beto's record and think he's great. You can look at his record and think he's bad. That's your call. What's grotesque are those suggesting these votes shouldn't even be reported on."

While O'Rourke has not yet said whether he will run for president, his potential White House bid has been met with enthusiasm by the corporate media, establishment Democrats, and the same donors who helped former President Barack Obama raise Wall Street cash in 2008 and 2012.

But the media frenzy surrounding O'Rourke has also compelled progressives to look beyond the congressman's rhetoric, which is often light on policy substance.

Such digging recently revealed that despite rejecting money from fossil fuel PACs, O'Rourke received dozens of donations from oil and gas executives during his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the November midterms.

After examining his unsuccessful Senate campaign and his record in the House, the Washington Post's Elizabeth Bruenig concluded: "I think the times both call for and allow for a left-populist candidate with uncompromising progressive principles. I don't see that in O'Rourke."


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