Watchdog Calls for IRS Audit of Warnock Church


Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D., Ga.) church should face an IRS audit for concealing its ownership of a low-income apartment building that tried to evict disadvantaged residents, a watchdog group charged in a complaint filed Wednesday.

The complaint follows a Washington Free Beacon report that Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Warnock serves as a senior pastor, owns 99 percent of the Columbia Tower at MLK Village in downtown Atlanta. The church’s charity, Ebenezer Building Foundation, did not disclose on its Form 990 tax returns that it owns the building through a network of shell organizations. Experts say the omission violates IRS reporting rules.

“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17

“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 charged in the complaint. “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.”

Ebenezer Building Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that in its IRS Form 990 filings delegates all management duties to Ebenezer Baptist Church, shares the same address as the church, and identifies Warnock as its principal officer. Ebenezer Building Foundation holds a 99 percent stake in Columbia Tower through a shell company called MLK Village Corporation, which also shares the same address as the church and is led by the same three officers as the charity.

“Accordingly, Ebenezer should have disclosed Columbia Residential as a for-profit-related entity … as a ‘related organization’ because it is, in effect, its ‘Subsidiary,'” the NLPC said in its complaint.

“In addition, the Foundation failed to disclose MLK Village Corp as a related organization since it has had the same three registered officers since 2018,” the watchdog added. “In that case, they are considered a Brother/Sister organization since they are ‘controlled by the same person or persons that control the filing organization.'”

Columbia Tower has received over $15 million in taxpayer funds to serve as a home for the “chronically homeless” and those with “mental disabilities.” That didn’t stop the church’s 1 percent business partner, Columbia Residential, from filing a dozen eviction lawsuits against residents of the building over the course of the pandemic, one who owed just $28.55 in past-due rent.

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