A nonprofit has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service over a report that Ebenezer Baptist Church tried evicting some residents from an apartment building it owns.
The National Legal and Policy Center alleged Ebenezer Baptist Church tried to hide its 99% ownership of Columbia Towers at MLK Village in Atlanta, an apartment building under scrutiny for its aggressive eviction tactics. The group filed the complaint in the wake of a Washington Free Beacon report, which revealed the church tried to evict tenants behind on their rent for as little as $28.55.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, is the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.
"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 group said in its 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."
This week, the Secretary of State Office’s Securities and Charities Division sent a letter to the Ebenezer Building Foundation, saying it does not appear the group is registered as a charity in the state. A spokesman for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger declined to comment but confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which the Washington Free Beacon reported.
"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 Washington Free Beacon. "It’s despicable that in the name of MLK, they are evicting tenants for past due rents of trifling amounts."
Warnock, elected in 2020, faces off against Republican Herschel Walker in November’s election. The race could decide whether Democrats maintain the U.S. Senate or Republicans seize control.
A Georgia News Collaborative poll found the race is a "dead heat," with Warnock holding a slight lead over Walker — 46.4% to 43.4%. Libertarian Chase Oliver picked up 4.1% of the vote, opening the possibility of a runoff between Warnock and Walker; another 6.1% were undecided.
"I have never known a preacher that likes abortion even after birth, won’t pay his child support and evicts poor people to the street," Walker said on Twitter. "I will pay the $4500 in past due rents listed in this [Washington Free Beacon] news article to keep [Warnock] from evicting these people."
Last month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, awarded the Ebenezer Building Foundation $5 million. The money was part of more than $30.8 million for eight homelessness and housing insecurity projects.
The National Legal and Policy Center filed its complaint with the Internal Revenue Service's Exempt Organizations Division. Warnock’s campaign and the Democratic Party of Georgia did not respond to a request for comment.