Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) church hid the ownership of a low-income apartment building, necessitating an audit by the IRS, a National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) complaint charged this week.
Warnock’s church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, tried to evict tenets for not paying as little as $28.55 while the senator raked in a $120,000 pastoral salary and a $7,417 monthly housing allowance from the church on top of his Senate salary.
The Ebenezer Building Foundation is the church’s charity and the entity that owns the apartment building of Columbia Tower at MLK Village in downtown Atlanta.
“It is abundantly clear that Ebenezer Building Foundation, Inc. has violated one or more IRS laws and regulations regarding the operation of a nonprofit charity,” the National Legal and Policy Center complaint reads. “The IRS must conduct a full investigation and audit of the Foundation’s finances and transactions and assess appropriate civil and criminal penalties, and revoking their tax-exempt status if warranted. The public interest demands it.”
The NLPC also charged that the foundation misreported its rental revenues on tax forms from the building in 2020 by over $200,000. In 2020, the foundation report $609,720 in rental revenues, not the $377,993 in rental revenue an audit statement the Washington Free Beacon reported. It is unknown why the foundation would report more revenue than received.
“Senator Warnock and his church need to explain why they are hiding their ownership in the apartment building and to account for the rents received,” NLPC attorney Paul Kamenar told the Free Beacon. “It’s despicable that in the name of MLK, they are evicting tenants for past due rents of trifling amounts.”
It is unknown if Warnock is implicated in any potential wrongdoing. However, the executive pastor of the church John Vaughn has previously stated on a grant application that he “works closely” with Warnock in “managing the overall vision, ministries, and operations” of the church.
The complaint comes after Warnock’s church attempted to evict eight tenants from the Atlanta apartment building the nonprofit owns for as little as $28.55 in overdue rent. Financial statements from 2021 show Ebenezer Baptist Church possesses liquid assets of more than $1.2 million. It should be noted the church is in the pockets of taxpayers. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) gave the church’s apartment building $5 million in August for repairs.
The apartment building, which caters to the “chronically homeless” and those with “mental disabilities,” has found itself sued a dozen times during the pandemic. One of the latest lawsuits shows a tenant was asked to vacate the apartment building for $4,900 due in back rent, a sum that is nearly half of Warnock’s pastoral monthly housing allowance.
Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker has pledged to pay past due rents to stop “Reverend Warnock from evicting” tenants who live in the church’s building.
Warnock’s church’s landlord tactics are especially rich because Warnock himself campaigned on eviction protection. Warnock ripped his political opponent for not going along with federal housing pandemic subsidies as “clearly only concerned with serving their own interests.”
Warnock reportedly more than doubled his income. Warnock’s reported 2021 income includes a Senate salary ($164,816), Ebenezer Baptist Church salary ($120,964), Ebenezer Baptist Church housing allowance ($7,417-per-month), Penguin Random House/Book deal ($243,750), and speaking fees ($5,750).