Posted April 2, 2008 - The deadline has come and gone, but two big-time TV ministers still have not complied with a Senate committee demanding that they submit financial documents to be evaluated for their church’s bling factor.
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Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, gave six mega-church leaders until March 31 to hand over documents related to their church’s financial dealings.
Televangelists Kenneth Copeland, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Creflo Dollar, of College Park, Ga., are the remaining holdouts and face the possibility of being subpoenaed by Grassley’s committee.
On Monday, Bishop Eddie Long reluctantly gave up the paperwork. Grassley has said that he was prompted to kick off the investigation into six of the largest TV ministries following tips from several sources complaining about the lavish spending by the preachers, whose churches are exempt from taxation.
The lawmaker points to luxury cars, private jets and plush cribs enjoyed by the church leaders. In addition to Copeland, Dollar and Long, those called on in a letter to submit financial documents were Randy and Paula White, of Tampa, Fla.; the Rev. Joyce Meyer, of Fenton, Mo.; and the Rev. Bennie Hinn, of Irving, Texas.
Copeland said that he had “provided 23 pages of answers to questions and 291 pages of supporting material in response to Grassley's initial request in November,” the Baptist Press reports. Grassley says, however, that the information is "incomplete." Dollar has declined to give up any financial documents.
"It's good to see the majority of the ministries offering information," Grassley said in the March 31 release.
"They receive generous tax breaks as non-profit organizations. In general, the federal Treasury forgoes billions of tax dollars a year to tax-exempt groups. The ministries' sharing of material with the Senate committee in charge of tax policy shows an interest in accountability for their special tax status."
Should they have to give up the documents?