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Televangelist refuses to turn over more financial documents

  • Story Highlights
  • World Changers Church refuses to turn over additional financial documents
  • Sen. Grassley asked six preachers to provide reports on how donations spent
  • Georgia televangelist Creflo Dollar says his church is not violating any tax laws
  • His church brought in $69 million last year, local newspaper reports
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By Carol Costello
CNN Washington Bureau
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(CNN) -- Georgia televangelist Creflo Dollar is refusing to turn over any more financial documents to the Senate Finance Committee, even though they are overdue.

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Creflo Dollar says if Sen. Charles Grassley wants more information, he'll have to subpoena him to testify.

Last month, the committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley, asked Dollar and five other TV and megachurch preachers to provide him detailed reports on how they're spending billions of dollars in church donations. He wants to make sure their ministries aren't violating their tax-exempt status by spending church donations on personal luxuries.

Five of the six ministries have either turned over documents or asked Grassley for more time, which the senator readily agreed to give them.

But Dollar and his World Changers Church have refused, and he's hired a lawyer. He said if Grassley wants more information he'll have to subpoena him to testify before the committee.

The Iowa senator is surprised by Dollar's ultimatum. "If he sticks to his guns," Grassley said, "this will be the first nonprofit that I know of that hasn't cooperated with us over the last five or six years." Video Watch why Dollar doesn't want to turn over the documents »

In November, Dollar told CNN that his church was not in violation of any tax laws. "We've always said at the very beginning we have no problems if it's a valid request," Dollar said. "And, you know, we comply with the IRS."

Dollar is making no apologies for living in a $2.5 million mansion in Georgia, driving a church-bought Rolls Royce and having access to a luxury Manhattan apartment. He said the church owns some of his luxury items and he bought the rest with his own money.

Dollar also told CNN he did turn over some documents to Grassley's office and was confident they would be sufficient. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of those documents spelled out how much money the church raked in last year: $69 million.

Again, Dollar makes no apologies. His prosperity ministry preaches a form of Word of Faith theology, which teaches God wants the faithful to have the best in life, including material things.

He said Grassley is sticking his nose where it doesn't belong -- in church doctrine.

Grassley strongly objects to that sentiment. "For the focus of this inquiry, ministries are the same as any other nonprofit organization," he said. "It's a question of abiding by tax laws."

Rusty Leonard, who runs an online citizen's watchdog group, Ministrywatch.com, is on Grassley's side. He said Dollar's church should be transparent so donors know how their money is being spent. He said Dollar should be happy to comply with Grassley's request, unless he has something to hide.

"I guess, looking at it from their perspective, they could potentially go into Grassley's confessional and end up walking out in handcuffs," Leonard said. "So they have to be very careful about what they release."

Grassley, so far, isn't threatening Dollar with a subpoena, but he didn't rule it out either. He said he's used it in the past to great effect.

Here's how the other minstries have responded to requests for accounting, according to Grassley's office:

  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (Kenneth Copeland Ministries): Attorneys delivered material to Grassley's staff on Thursday.
  • Benny Hinn (World Healing Center Church, Inc.): Grassley's staff is scheduled to meet with the ministry's attorneys on Friday.
  • Eddie Long (New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Ministry): Representatives said publicly that the ministry will cooperate. Grassley has not received any material or had contact from the ministry.
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  • Joyce Meyer (Joyce Meyer Ministries): Grassley's staff received material from the organization on Tuesday and is reviewing it.
  • Randy and Paula White (Without Walls International Church Today): Received initial contact from attorneys who said they will contact Grassley's staff shortly but has had no further response.
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