Ebenezer Baptist Pastor Sen. Raphael Warnock may have violated disclosure laws, watchdog suggests

Senator Raphael G. Warnock attends the 2022 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Jan. 17, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Senator Raphael G. Warnock attends the 2022 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Jan. 17, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. | Getty Images/Paras Griffin

The leader of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, might have violated federal disclosure laws or Senate ethics rules when he accepted $125,000 in deferred compensation from his church in 2022, according to conservative watchdog group the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics led by Chairman Christopher A. Coons, D-Del., and Vice Chairman James Lankford, R-Okla., the organization’s executive director, Kendra Arnold, called on the committee to investigate the circumstances under which Warnock accepted the $125,000 deferred payment from the church, legally or ethically.

“When the facts presented so clearly indicate a violation has occurred, it is incumbent on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate, inform the public to maintain citizen confidence, and hold the Senator responsible for violations should they be found,” Arnold stated in her letter.

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Citing Warnock’s 2022 financial disclosure report, Arnold noted that he received $154,895 from Ebenezer Baptist Church, including the $125,000 “described as ‘deferred compensation for services before January 20, 2021.’”

“Curiously, this was the first time Sen. Warnock reported the $125,000 that was claimed to be earned before he was sworn in as a U.S. Senator,” Arnold wrote. “Similarly, Ebenezer Baptist Church reportedly also failed to report the liability of $125,000 in its prior financial statements for calendar years 2020 and 2021.”

Arnold explained that financial disclosure laws would have required Warnock, who was elected as Georgia’s first black senator in January 2021, to disclose any deferred payments he was expected to receive prior to his election. She also pointed out that the Senate’s outside income earned income limit rule would have prevented him from accepting more than $29,895 in other income beyond his government salary in 2022.

“According to Senator Warnock’s own filings, he has apparently either violated the disclosure laws or the outside earned income limit. If the payment of $125,000 was accurately described as deferred compensation, which would require that the agreement was reached before he entered into the Senate, then he should have disclosed it on his candidate financial disclosure filings and his previous financial disclosures. He cannot accept payment of $125,000 in 2022 and retroactively describe it as deferred compensation,” Arnold argued.

“On the other hand, if the $125,000 payment was not earned before he was sworn in as a Senator, and thus was not accurately described as deferred compensation, then he has submitted false information on a financial disclosure report and exceeded the outside earned income limit for 2022,” she added.

When contacted for comment Wednesday, Warnock’s office did not immediately respond to questions about the deferred payment from The Christian Post.

Alexandra Dubois, a representative of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, told CP that she could not immediately confirm whether Warnock has provided a response to the letter.

She said if the committee provides a response, it will likely come at a later date.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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