Among other things, the senator wants to know tax-exempt purpose of items purchased for her ministry’s headquarters, such as a $23,000 marble-topped toilet, a $30,000 conference table and an $11,219 French clock.
The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the financial dealings of six TV evangelists, including Joyce Meyer, the popular preacher who has built a $124-million-a-year empire headquartered in Fenton.
On Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Meyer to provide his staff with documents detailing the finances of the Joyce Meyer Ministries, including the religious group’s compensation to Meyer, her husband and other family members, as well as an accounting of their housing allowances, gifts and credit card statements for the last several years.
In his five-page letter, Grassley also asked Meyer for:
A “detailed accounting” of all her and her husband’s expense-account items, including clothing and cosmetic surgery.
Information about any overseas bank accounts and deposits made outside the U.S. after international evangelical crusades.
The tax-exempt purpose of items purchased for her ministry’s headquarters, such as a $23,000 marble-topped commode, a $30,000 conference table and an $11,219 French clock.
A detailed accounting of total monthly expenses for upkeep on the Meyers’ personal residence, and any vacation homes, from 2004 to the present.
An explanation of any personal use of the ministries’ tax-exempt assets, including “jets, employees, facilities,” from 2004 to the present.
An explanation for how personal gifts from donors, such as money or jewelry, are handled and reported to the IRS.
The letter was one of six the Republican senator sent Monday to media-oriented ministers around the country.
“I’m following up on complaints from the public and news coverage regarding certain practices at six ministries,” Grassley said in a statement. “The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls-Royces.
“I don’t want to conclude that there’s a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more. People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code.”
Meyer, one of America’s wealthiest and most powerful TV preachers, was the focus of a 2003 Post-Dispatch series that detailed her lavish lifestyle and blunt fundraising pitches. The stories outlined Meyer’s transformation from an abused child to a one-time bookkeeper trapped in a failed marriage and then on to a religious powerhouse whose folksy preachings have worldwide reach.
Meyer preaches the “prosperity gospel” and uses blunt pitches to get her followers to open their wallets.
– Source: Joyce Meyer Ministries is a target of GOP senator’s probe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA, Nov. 6, 2007