Sen. Raphael Warnock Accused of Flouting Federal Law with Part-Time Pastor Gig
A watchdog group has raised concerns that Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) may have violated federal law by exploiting a potential loophole to earn significant sums through his part-time pastor role. The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) is demanding an immediate investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.
“The fact that neither Senator Warnock nor his employer reportedly disclosed the ‘deferred compensation‘ agreement prior to it being paid in 2022 indicates that it was likely not actually deferred compensation earned before Warnock became a senator,” said FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold.
“Nevertheless, even if the parties entered into a deferred compensation agreement before he was a senator, it should have been disclosed before it was. When the facts presented so clearly indicate a violation has occurred, it is incumbent on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate, inform the public to maintain citizen confidence, and hold the senator responsible for violations should they be found.”
Warnock, who has been a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church since 2005, listed a salary of $155,000 on his 2022 financial disclosure. However, he claimed that $125,000 of that amount was “deferred compensation for services before Jan. 20, 2021,” allowing him to argue that he did not exceed the $30,000 outside income limit for senators. The watchdog group points out that the $125,000 was not listed as an asset on Warnock’s previous financial disclosures or the church’s records for 2020 and 2021.
FACT also highlights that federal rules require senators to report all “deferred compensation” plans, including the “parties, dates, and terms of the agreement.” The Ethics in Government Act imposes consequences for breaking the law, such as fines of up to $50,000 or even imprisonment.
Warnock’s 2022 disclosure did not mention approval from the Senate Select Committee on Ethics for the ”deferred compensation” arrangement. In 2021, the committee had granted Warnock permission to bypass the earned income limit after he disclosed earning $120,000 from Ebenezer, with $89,000 of that sum allegedly coming from a nontaxable ”parsonage allowance” used to pay for his $1 million home in Atlanta.
Sen. Warnock’s office and the Senate Ethics Committee have not responded to requests for comment.
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