Jen Hubbard said she knew right away that Christian Research Institute (CRI) had spending problems. Committed to working at nonprofit ministries, the 27-year-old was thrilled to be at CRI, where Hendrik (Hank) Hanegraaff hosted the popular Bible Answer Man radio broadcast. But the way Hanegraaff spent money did not seem right, Hubbard told Christianity Today.

Hubbard's subsequent actions sparked an investigation by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), and in March, the watchdog agency found CRI had "breached compliance" with key member standards. After further investigation and counsel, CRI employees agreed to pay back significant sums of misused ministry funds and create better accountability systems in the organization.

Poor internal controls

CRI hired Hubbard as a donor communications specialist in May 2002. She became alarmed when she saw ministry spending practices and heard employee concerns about the outlays. Meanwhile, she was sending monthly financial appeals to donors, urging them to give generously lest CRI suffer ministry cutbacks. The ministry generated more than $500,000 a month in donations in 2001.

"It's kind of hard to make those pleas when you see the extravagance from the inside," said Hubbard, who held similar positions with Insight for Living and Joni and Friends.

One item she was particularly concerned about was CRI's paying $66,000 in July 2002 for a blue Lexus sc, purchased for Hanegraaff's use. That same year former employees said a lull in giving resulted in layoffs at the $9.3 million ministry.

When her supervisor refused to take her complaint seriously, Hubbard started looking for proof. In December, while doing after-hours overtime work at the Rancho Santa Margarita–based ministry, ...

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Christian Research Institute Accused of 'Naïve' Bookkeeping
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August 2003

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