Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating several major church-based ministries known for their leaders' lavish lifestyles and prosperity teachings.
"Recent articles and news reports regarding possible misuse of donations made to religious organizations have caused some concern for the Finance Committee," Grassley wrote to the ministries in letters asking for detailed financial records.
None of the ministries targetedthose led by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Randy and Paula Whiteare required to file the financial disclosure Form 990 with the IRS because they are are designated as churches.
Grassley "is not just asking them to come in and talk, he is asking them for everything," Kenneth Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, told The Tampa Tribune, which in May ran a lengthy investigative report on the Whites' Without Walls church and its finances.
The ministries have until December 6 to submit audited financial statements, compensation reports, records for ministry jet travel, and other documents. The Tampa Tribune has posted the letters to each ministry.
Some of the ministries contacted by news organizations say they will respond to the requests.
Creflo Dollar told CBS News his ministry is an "open book" and said he would comply with any "valid request" from Grassley. But he also warned that Grassley's investigation possibly affects "the privacy of every community church in America."
Joyce Meyer Ministries noted an October letter from the IRS stating, "We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax." The ministry also said that audited financial ...