Evangelist who got incentives builds big

cerullo

Inspiration Networks’ chief executive David Cerullo, who moved his ministry to South Carolina after receiving state incentives, has invested about $4 million in a lakefront home under construction in South Carolina, according to The Charlotte Observer.

The religious network leader’s new house includes more than 9,000 heated square feet, along with a 2,000-square-foot screened porch, and sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Greenville in a gated community that overlooks Lake Keowee, according to The Observer.

This is of particular interest to South Carolinians because in 2006 South Carolina offered the broadcaster incentives worth up to $26 million to move his City of Light campus to Lancaster County from Charlotte.

According to The Observer, “Taxpayer advocates question the deal, particularly in light of Cerullo’s salary and real estate holdings. ‘If they’ve got these kinds of assets, does the state really need to offer… tax breaks?’ asked Don Weaver, president of the S.C. Association of Taxpayers.”

In addition, Inspiration is fighting for an exemption from property taxes on its 92-acre site, despite a ruling by the S.C. Department of Revenue that it must pay them.

Cerullo’s fast-growing religious network is drawing scrutiny for the money it collects from donors. The broadcaster has raised tens of millions, largely by telling viewers that God brings financial favor to those who donate, the paper reported.

“As the nonprofit network has grown – with revenues expected to approach $100 million this year – so has Cerullo’s salary.

“With compensation exceeding $1.5 million a year, Cerullo is the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups, The Observer reported last month.”

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