Daystar Television Network has returned the $ 3.9 million it received from the federal government’s paycheck protection program after being asked by a reporter about the recent purchase of a private jet.
The Christian Network, founded by Marcus Lamb, has denied using PPP funds to purchase a multi-million dollar 1997 Gulfstream V, a luxury aircraft that can accommodate up to 14 passengers, according to Interior edition. The purchase took place two weeks after receiving the PPP loan.
“Lamb says Daystar was able to purchase the jet with the proceeds from an investment and the sale of his old jet,” the news magazine reported.
Texas-based Daystar is one of the largest Christian television networks in the world that features popular preachers and hosts Marcus and Joni Lamb. It is classified as a tax exempt church and therefore is not required to disclose its finances.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Small Business Administration’s PPP aimed to help small businesses and nonprofits overcome coronavirus-related shutdowns and keep workers on the payroll. According to the provisions of the program, a loan can only be canceled if at least 60% of the amount received goes to wages. Many churches have applied for and received PPP loans and among them, Daystar received $ 3.9 million, according to Inside Edition.
Inside Edition chief correspondent Lisa Guerrero confronted Marcus Lamb about the jet which was purchased shortly after.
“Your church received millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and two weeks later purchased a private jet for millions of dollars. Can you explain this? she asked.
“No we didn’t; used our own money,” Lamb replied.
“So why are you using this private jet? Church business only? Guerrero asked.
“Absolutely,” Lamb replied.
The news magazine reported that Lamb’s family used the jet this year for vacations in Florida and California. Lamb said he was on a working vacation.
After Inside Edition’s investigations, Daystar repaid the entire PPP loan to the government with interest.
“A lawyer for Daystar Network said he is not using charitable donations to fund his operations, including the purchase of this jet, and is complying with all laws,” he said. declared.
More than 10,000 religious organizations, including a few other televangelists, have received more than $ 3 billion through the PPP, much of which has gone to groups affiliated with the Catholic Church, according to a partial list of beneficiaries published in July.
According to an analysis of The Guardian’s list of beneficiaries, nine organizations received between $ 5 million and $ 10 million, the highest loan amount available under the PPP. Seven of these 19 groups were affiliated with the Catholic Church.
Jimmy Swaggart, who runs the Family Worship Center in Louisiana and was previously defrocked by the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in the early 1990s for sex scandals, has earned between $ 2 million and $ 5 million.
A Vanderbloeman investigation found that some 75% of churches and Christian organizations that received a PPP loan said the funds helped keep their operations fully staffed and that many of them have already been forgiven. More than half of churches and Christian organizations (61%) received less than $ 150,000 and 85% of these received less than $ 349,000.