Joyce Meyer Ministries says it is fully answering U.S. senator’s inquiries

WASHINGTON — Joyce Meyer Ministries said Wednesday it is fully cooperating with a U.S. senator’s investigation into its finances and is confident the inquiry will show the popular Fenton-based TV evangelist is in “complete compliance” with the law.

The move comes in response to a wide-ranging investigation launched earlier this month by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who asked Meyer and five other religious broadcasters for financial documents.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, asked Meyer about everything from her compensation and expense accounts to the tax-exempt purpose of a $23,000 marble-topped commode.

The ministry, a $124-million-a-year empire headquartered in Fenton, said Wednesday it would meet Grassley’s Dec. 6 deadline.

A statement posted on Joyce Meyer Ministries’ website noted that the ministry is not legally obligated to comply but said that “in keeping with our own high standards of fiscal responsibility,” it would provide Grassley’s staff the requested data “on time” and “in full detail.”

The statement did not say whether the ministry would make the documents public.

The ministry posted other material on its website, including:

• A letter from the IRS, dated Oct. 10, stating that its inquiry into Joyce Meyer Ministries had determined the group still qualified for tax-exempt status under federal law.

• A statement from the ministry’s accountants saying that since 2004, contributions from Joyce Meyer and her husband to the ministry were “in excess of taxable compensation received by them.”

• A statement that the commode in question is not a “common household toilet” and did not cost $23,000. Quoting the Webster’s Dictionary definition, the statement said the commode is a “tall elegant chest of drawers,” and was one of 68 pieces of furniture purchased “to finish out the interior” of its 150,000-square-foot headquarters.

The statement says the seller put an “errant value” on the item but doesn’t say how much it was. In all, the 68 pieces cost $261,498.21, the statement said.

Meyer is one of six TV evangelists to whom Grassley sent letters. The others are Benny Hinn of Grapevine, Texas; Eddie Long of Lithonia, Ga.; Creflo and Taffi Dollar of College Park, Ga.; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Newark, Texas; and Randy and Paula White of Tampa, Fla.

“We’ve received indication so far that some of the ministries intend to respond, and we’re hopeful that the others will follow suit,” Jill Gerber, a spokeswoman for Grassley, said Wednesday.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday November 30, 2007.
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