Televangelist Got PPP Money, Bought Private Jet

A televangelist bought a private jet two weeks after receiving PPP funds.

Marcus Lamb runs Daystar Television, which may have as many as 2 billion viewers and is valued at a quarter of a billion dollars. Two weeks after it took $4 million in taxpayer PPP funds, it bought a private jet, a Gulfstream V, valued at between $9 million and $10 million.

The preacher says they got a good deal on the 14 passenger Gulfstream, and that they had their own money so didn’t need to use PPP funds for it. Of course if they were that flush, why are taxpayers supporting them, and why aren’t they using their own funds for their employees who conduct religious teachings?

That’s probably a problem more with the government’s helicopter drop, where anyone who wanted to grab money could do so. I’m not sure whether it’s right to criticize taking money that’s being offered.

Lisa Guerrero of Inside Editiion wanted to know, though, why the pastor took the jet on what his wife posted to social media was a vacation? That presents potential IRS problems, since it’s converting a non-profit asset to personal use, especially problematic for a “disqualified person” with respect to that non-profit (potentially creating exposure to an excess benefits transactions tax).

The church now says they’ve paid back the PPP funds.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s a common rule in many cultures that it’s sometimes inappropriate to take what is offered. Because what is offered is often out of politeness, and accepting the offer puts a burden on either the host, or society.

    When a friend tells you to “make yourself comfortable” it doesn’t mean take off your pants and jacket.

  2. I read that Joel Osteen who is worth north of $60M had his church take $4.4M in PPP funds. Dr. Phil got $20M while his son was buying a $2M house. I did read that over $30B has been returned to the government from business that did not qualify such as the LA Lakers, Shake Shack, etc.

    This is the problem with government bailouts. So many small businesses are failing and the congress can’t get off their hands to do anything to help them. WalMart and Home Depot can be open but the Mom and Pop’s have to close. The big companies with their lobbyist are getting richer and the small ones are getting crushed. And then you have the airlines getting mega payouts to keep their pampered employees paid and with benefits that are not available to the smaller companies.

    What this country is turning into is a disgrace!

  3. Not only is Home Depot getting richer, they are posting record profit and earnings which serves to enrich their executives through bonuses and stock grants. Max bonus at Home Depot is 120% to sales and profit plan, and last quarter as well as this quarter exceeded those projections. Nice for front line leaders, however the brass at the top is pulling in millions. It’s disgusting what we are doing to small businesses while allowing large corporations to line their pockets.

  4. @Wiley Dog – I agree 100%. So many churches have become profit centers and PAC’s. A complete review of all of the “non-profits” out there as well. There are many church’s and non-profits that operate honestly and ethically but there are a lot that use the tax code to avoid taxes.

  5. @ Gary — Why in God’s name (pun intended) is a church eligible for PPP funds? They pay no taxes, so they should get no taxpayer-funded bailouts. I really hope the current $900B bailout under discussion is blocked by someone.

  6. @ Gene – The $900B should not be blocked but it should go to where it’s needed and not companies that have ample cash reserves to make it through all of this. The rise in unemployment is coming from the small businesses that are shutting down. Why Dr. Phil’s companies qualified for $20M is beyond me. Same with Joel Osteen’s church. The church employees do pay taxes but you are correct that the churches themselves do not. The airlines are so poorly run and crippled by unions that they should be allowed to fail and quit dumping good money after bad into them.

  7. @c.Weston – A lot of small business didn’t apply because they were afraid of an audit. I’ve never been a Tom Brady fan but now I really can’t stand the guy. The congress needs to enact some legislation to get that money back and make them pay interest. And our “religious leaders” who stand in front of us everyday and tell us how to live our lives and they are pocketing millions. They aren’t any better than the airlines!

    I might be wrong on this but I though congress wrote the terms of the PPP not the administration.

  8. @Gene because Trump and his pandering to evangelicals. Essentially it was hush money to stay quiet about the Trump family corruption.

  9. “When a friend tells you to “make yourself comfortable” it doesn’t mean take off your pants and jacket.”

    It does at our house.

  10. Guys, not all Christians are the same. Our Daily Bread Ministries employs nearly 300 people in Grand Rapids, MI. They were offered 4 million. They took it to help pay salaries. They later decided that the money was not needed as they were able to cover their expenses, and they returned the money to the government. They could have kept it as others did, but instead, they did the right thing. I applaud them!

  11. “This is what happens when republicans and democrats work together.”

    You guys allll miss the point.
    PPP was a nuclear blast of cash. You didn’t have to prove you had any losses. They just dropped money from the sky.

    There is no better symbology for how our mighty country has crumbled.

    The people beg for free money.
    They get free money.
    They complain.

    So what will the solution be?
    More free money.

    What’s the eventual cost?
    Our freedom.
    Paid in full in 2020

  12. non-profits, not just churches, were eligible for PPP to preserve jobs, not to buy jets.

    The violation is using chuch assets (why does any church need a private jet or do they not see the problem in doing so) for personal use unless it is not compensated.

    Repaying the PPP does not get them out of the problem they created.

    The vast majority of churches are very carefully run and work very hard to make sure they do not violate their tax exempt status, including discussing politics from the pulpit. But there are always a few bad apples that do things that make the whole bunch look bad – just as happens with every other group of people.

    And the chain stores/restaurants that got PPP were franchises. Home Depot stores are not franchises, so far as I know. People are spending money on their homes because they are spending more time in them than ever.

  13. I have also read that this group of people were arrested while trying to flee from one of the government agencies……..they had a car full of electronics and a paper shredder and bags of already shredded papers and cash. And they were caught. This happened last week I think……at least they got caught!!

  14. Joe Biden’s son in law a Doctor who owns a home health agency got $$$1.5 million for his HHA???
    not sure why he needed it as that business is booming!!!

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