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Paul Kamenar

Watchdog Group Files IRS Complaint Against Senator Raphael Warnock and Ebenezer Baptist Church

Hiding Ownership in Atlanta Apartment Building and Evicting Poor Tenants

[Washington, DC] [October 13, 2022] -- The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against Senator Raphael Warnock, the principal officer of the Ebenezer Building Foundation, Inc., and three other officers for failing to disclose on the charitable Foundation’s annual Form 990 two related organizations who are partners in the ownership of the 96-unit Atlanta apartment building. The complaint also asks for an audit to explain the discrepancies in the rental income the Foundation receives from the renters, who are low-income and are being evicted for not paying back rent, some as low as $28.00.

NLPC’s complaint was spurred by an article appearing in the Washington Free Beacon written by investigative reporter Andrew Kerr.

The article notes that while Senator Warnock is receiving a housing subsidy tax-free from Ebenezer Baptist Church of $7,800 a month in addition to his salary as a pastor, his church is evicting poor tenants for trifling amounts and tacking on hundreds of dollars in penalties and fees. The follow-up Free Beacon article reports on NLPC’s IRS filing.

NLPC claims that besides listing Ebenezer Baptist Church as a related organization (which also manages the property) on their Form 990, the Foundation should have disclosed to the IRS two other related organizations: Columbia Residential, which owns one percent in the property while Ebenezer owns 99 percent as a General Partner, and MLK Village Corp., which has the same officers as Ebenezer Foundation, and under IRS rules is considered a sister organization.

“It’s despicable that Senator Warnock’s church is hiding its ownership of the building while evicting poor Black tenants for as little as $28.00 in late rent,” said Paul Kamenar, counsel to NLPC who drafted and filed the complaint. “This is a modern-day version of Simon Legree,” Kamenar added, referencing the villain in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

"Warnock purports to speak for the disadvantaged but is he serving their interests or his own?” asked NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty. “NLPC has been in the forefront of exposing high living and self-dealing within Black Lives Matter. Apparently, Warnock is demonstrating that promoting social justice can be quite lucrative,” Flaherty added.

NLPC promotes ethics in public life and government accountability through research, investigation, education, and legal action.

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